Benefits of having a registered trade mark â€“ from a clothing label perspective
Your trade mark can become an important means of building customer loyalty, maintaining goodwill and increasing profitability making it an extremely valuable marketing tool. When a customer is looking to make a purchase, it may be your trade mark which they are seeking and looking to identify with when they come to make this purchase.
It is common knowledge the difficulties and hard work associated with building up a clothing label, so much so that it is crucial to prevent competitors from launching clothing lines under deceptively similar brands. Although not compulsory, registering your brand name as a trade mark can be a very beneficial acquisition in your attempts to sustain sales and continue to increase profits.
If you proceed to register a business name only, it can become challenging to thwart another company from using a similar name to yours. Despite this, registering a particular trade mark can open up doors to the potential of licensing that trade mark to another company. In the fashion industry today, many known brands licence their trade mark for products such as perfume and accessories, products which they do not make themselves. Already mentioned is the possibility of licensing your own trade mark to another company; however the option is also available under a licence to obtain permission to use someone else’s trade mark. The terms of the licence is between you and the licensor and the IPO has no powers to investigate the validity of any licence agreed between parties.
There are reasonably strict guidelines which must be complied with in order for your registration to be deemed valid. Trade marks which describe your clothing label as a whole will be difficult to register due to your occupation not being particularly unique. It will also prove difficult to register a trade mark that is too descriptive and contains terms that other designers might want to use in order to describe similar products. Two examples could be “quality jackets” or “couture dresses”. In addition, you must ensure your trade mark is not one which would be deemed misleading. An example of a misleading trade mark could be one where a clothing label are claiming their products are ones which are ‘hand-made’ when actually they are mass produced.
Many designers such as Ted Baker, Tommy Hilfiger and Paul Smith have acquired protection for their label which is based around their own name. Although ‘Baker’ and ‘Smith’ are very common surnames, it is thought to be a tough task to register a common surname or a geographic location as a trade mark. Exceptions to this rule arise where a company can prove they have used the word as a brand for a considerable amount of time.
Despite all the limitations which surround this area, if as a clothing label you have an innovative name or logo it will certainly be possible, and moreover beneficial, to obtain trade mark registration.
Southampton Solent Law Student