For those of you who, like me, are self employed running their own small business, you know how much hard work goes into setting up. There’s all the “glamorous” paperwork side to do, notifying the Inland Revenue, arranging insurance, etc. but there’s also the fun bits that let you stamp your own personality on your business – choosing your business name!
For those who don’t already know, I named my business in memory of my beloved furry soulmate Lucylou. It seemed like a great way to remember a good friend, and so Lucylou Designs was born.
When you’re several years down the line and trading happily, what do you do if you discover someone else has subsequently set up a business under a similar name? First step is don’t panic! If they are selling an entirely different product to you, then there is probably no need to worry, customers will realise you are not the same. However, if they are selling the same category of goods as you, then that is when things get tricky.
You don’t want your customers buying from them in error, and you may not want your brand “diluted” by association with their goods if they are not of the same standard as your own. That is where a trademark comes in to protect your business brand. Your business name is classed as your trademark whether you have registered it with the Intellectual Property Office or not, but registered trade marks give you more rights under law, and make it easier to prevent others from using your name.
For more information about registering your trademark follow the link to the .GOV website and avoid the websites that will charge you for the process. https://www.gov.uk/how-to-register-a-trade-mark/register-a-trade-mark
I read lots of scare stories about how you really have to use a solicitor to register your trademark, but ignored them and did my research online, then completed the process myself online through the .GOV website for a fraction of the cost of a solicitor. It was straightforward if a little slow. After 4 months I was the owner of a shiny new certificate to prove that Lucylou Designs is my registered trademark for the next 10 years. This means that I am able to stop anyone from using that name to sell jewellery items, or a name that is confusingly or deceptively similar which may misdirect customers.
If you’re sitting there thinking it is not worth the effort or expense, just consider what would you do if after 5 years of running the business you had built up from scratch, someone else came along and started using a really similar name. So similar that their customers were calling and emailing you by mistake. That’s what happened to me, and I can’t begin to tell you how pleased I am that I took those steps to protect my brand, my business, and my years of hard work! A simple cease and desist letter along with proof of registered trademark is all that was required to resolve what could have otherwise been a huge setback to my business brand. What a difference a little ® can make!