5 Valuable Lessons To Trademark Your Brand

While trademarking might sound like a boring topic for designers who love nothing more than pushing pixels and crafting awesome artwork, it is one of the most important parts of protecting yourself in the design business.

While trademarking might sound like a boring topic for designers who love nothing more than pushing pixels and crafting awesome artwork, it is one of the most important parts of protecting yourself in the design business.

A trademark is extremely valuable and also gives your business a bit more clout in the marketplace.

I recently went through the process of trademarking my logo and learnt a lot from it. Here is my story of how I fought the ‘law’, and won.

1. Early Stages – Panic, Confusion etc.

It all started in March when I spotted some disconcerting tweets regarding trademarking of a business which had the same name as mine:

After some research it became clear that the worst case scenario would be if someone registered ‘Phoenix Studios’ as a trademark, I may have to change my brand name after having used it for so long.

Panicking I looked into trademarking my brand. I started the process on IPO.gov.uk (Intellectual Property Office) and got instantly confused by the whole thing.

Lesson 1: Seek professional advice first rather than trying to do it yourself!

2. Registration

When you register a trademark you have to choose categories for your products and services, and you are advised by the IPO to search for any names that might be similar to yours in those categories.

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I did a search for ‘Phoenix Studios’ and nothing came up – hurray I thought! What I didn’t realise until later is that even if the company had just one similar or identical word they could oppose my application.

After I sent my application, the IPO informed me they would publish my trademark application in a journal for other companies to see and potentially oppose. They could do this within a 2 month period.

The real kicker was that they also had to write to all the UK companies with the word ‘Phoenix’ in the product categories I had selected, so I took a risk and told them to ‘go for it’

Lesson 2: Make sure your name isn’t being used and is unique enough before applying.

3. David VS Goliath

A month into the process and all was quiet. Half way there I thought. Then all of a sudden there was an email from the IPO. It was not good news.
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A company had threatened to oppose my application – my only option was to get in touch and try to reason with them. At this stage I felt I was on my own – a lone designer against a massive company who had all the power to take me out.

After a few emails with the company and negotiation the sticking point was apparently my logo. It was too similar to their logo I was told – as a designer I could see no such similarity, and took great lengths to explain why it was different.

Lesson 3: Know when to admit defeat but don’t be afraid to stand your ground.

4. The long wait..

The company in question decided to ask peers in the industry if the logos were similar. Fortunately no one thought they were!

I was able to proceed. However the opposition period was extended by a month, so another company could still oppose me.

The wait was nerve-racking, every day I expected to see some big corporate company opposing me. But it didn’t happen, once the opposition period expired I had to wait a further 2 weeks before finally getting my registration certificate. I was in the clear.
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Lesson 4: Make sure you logo is extremely unique

5. With great power comes great responsibility

For a while I had noticed that the Instagram account @phoenixstudios was taken and had been inactive for a few years.

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Reading Instagram’s help regarding inactive accounts, they were under no obligation to give me the username and suggested to take an alternative name instead.

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I tried to contact the owner to see if they would transfer it to me however there was no response. So I contacted Instagram with a link to my trademark and to my surprise they immediately transferred the username to me.

Lesson 5: Use your trademark, but try to talk it out first.

Do you have any advice when it comes to trademarking? Comment below..