If you are thinking of registering your own trade mark it’s an essential exercise to check yourself for trade marks that may be similar to yours for the same or similar goods or services. A thorough UK trade mark search can help your business avoid the threat of legal objections and intellectual property disputes down the line.
To find details of existing UK trade marks and who owns a specific trade mark you can complete your own search with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).
You can search for UK trade marks without having to pay a penny using the following parameters:
Searching by trade mark number
The IPO enables you to make an enquiry for a National UK trade mark, an EU trade mark, an International Registration designating the EU and an International Registration designating the UK.
Within this enquiry field you can submit an existing trade mark number (if you have prior knowledge of it) and select whether it’s a) a National UK trade mark, b) an EU trade mark, c) an International Registration designating the EU or d) an International Registration designating the UK.
Don’t worry if you only have a partial trade mark number as the search filter will simply list all of the existing trade marks featuring the numbers you’re aware of.
Searching by trade mark owner
The IPO operates a service that allows you to discover UK national trade marks owned by a particular person or company.
Note: This service does not extend to trade marks filed through the European or International trade mark protection routes.
It’s a simple form, enabling you to search for a person or company name and their UK postcode in standard UK format.
Searching by keyword, phrase or image
The IPO also provides a more granular trade mark search filter, allowing you to search existing trade marks by a specific word or image. For example, you can search for all trade marks featuring a particular word or more than one word.
Additionally, you can refine your trade mark search to only include those existing within a particular classification of ‘Goods’ or ‘Services’ to speed up your search.
You can even use date ranges to narrow down your search further if you wish to find trade marks filed within a particular timeframe. If you’re only interested in current trade marks you can also ensure the filter only looks at ‘Live’ trade marks as opposed to lapsed trade marks listed as ‘Dead’.
How to check the most recent trade mark applications
The IPO’s online journal enables you to search for trade mark applications or amendments to existing trade marks that have been accepted within the last week.
Note: The trade marks journal is published every week on a Friday, outlining accepted UK trade mark applications as well as international trade marks that include the UK.
Once a trade mark application is published in the IPO’s online journal you can object to it within the first two months of its appearance in the journal.
If you’re unsure of what you can and can’t trade mark in the UK, take a look at our guide to brands that are eligible to be a registered trade mark in this country.
If you’re unsure whether trademarking is an available and suitable form of protection for your business idea, why not book a one-to-one intellectual property advice session?
This article first appeared on the British Library’s Business & IP Centre website. View here.