A trade mark is anything distinguishes the goods and/or services on one business from those of their competitors. In other words, a trade mark identifies a particular business or organisation as the source of goods or services. A trademark will typically take the form of a name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image, or a combination of these elements although it is also possible to have less conventional trade marks comprising marks such as a shape, colour, smell, or sound (like jingles).
A registered trade mark provides the owner with exclusive rights to their trade mark which are enforceable by law. The unauthorized usage of trade marks by a third party commonly know as ‘counterfeiting’, ‘passing off’ or ‘brand piracy’.
I the UK (as with most countries), the owner of a registered trade mark may pursue legal action against anyone who infringes their trade mark . Again in the UK it is also possible to take action to protect an unregistered trade mark using common law but this is a more difficult process and in general offers less legal protection than a registered trade mark. For further information see our FAQ “What Types of Trade Marks are Available?“.