How to Check If Your Business IP is Protected from Competitors

How to check if your Business IP is protected from Competitors

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Any unique ideas and creative works created by an individual or organisation fall under the umbrella of Intellectual Property (IP). In the past, the question of how to get Intellectual Property Rights and safeguard these rights wasn’t a huge concern. However, with information being simpler to acquire and disseminate nowadays thanks to technology, protecting your works from copycats and competitors has become crucial. Social media has propelled some small businesses which would ordinarily have been great local businesses to be successful businesses both nationally and worldwide.

It is now more important than ever to ensure that your business’s IP is protected from competitors. Here are a few ways to check that you are doing all you can to do this:

Get Copyrights, Trade Marks, Registered Designs and Patents

By registering Intellectual Property Rights in the UK, businesses will be better placed to negotiate for cross-licensing and counterclaims while also securing protection for their research and development processes. A company can use IP Rights and registrations to block rival products, discourage new competitors, and open up the market for future market share thanks to technical developments.

A company can use IP Rights and registrations to block rival products, discourage new competitors, and open up the market for future market share

There are several different types of Intellectual Property Rights, and each one includes the ability to sue if a third party violates them. Some of them include:

Get Copyrights, Trade Marks, Registered Designs and Patents


These are a kind of IP that defends original works of writing or creative expression. For literature, artwork, drawings, or a mix of these things created by a company, Copyrights may be licenced. Within the UK copyright protection applies automatically, for example once content is written that is protected without any further steps necessary.

Trade Marks

These tend to be a business’s trading name, brand names, icons, or logos which are employed to identify the goods or services of a firm. A Trade Mark is anything that serves to distinguish a collection of items, commodities, and services as coming from the same owner or source, including names, words, signatures, texts, emblems, paintings, figures, inscriptions, photographs, and advertising. A brewer may Trade Mark its Trading name and logo but then also each individual beer they brew therefore creating sub-brands.


Patents are often used to register innovations and items that are special and not commonly known to the wider public. Inventions and creations within the pharmaceutical industries are good examples of where Patents need to be registered. To secure a Patent, technical details regarding the innovation must be made available to the public via a Patent application.

Registered Design

Design Registration helps protect the appearance of a product, such as its shape or pattern. It is what gives the product its unique appearance. Registering your design makes it easier to prove that the design is legally yours. Examples are particular shapes of chocolate, bottles or bags.

An IP Audit, such as what Start.Biz offers, can go a long way towards reviewing the status of your IP and helping you figure out the right way forward. For more on this, read our prior article.

Create Comprehensive Confidentiality Agreements

It is also a great choice to enlist the aid of a legal representative when creating non-disclosure legal clauses, which must be precise and explicit. Make sure that every other contract you employ in your business contributes to the protection of your Intellectual Property. Contracts for services, licensing, and distribution are some examples. If you produce artwork, others may wish to licence your work to use on their own products or merchandise, it is important that you invest well in getting the right advice in these areas to ensure what is drafted is fit for purpose to protect you and your business’ IP.

Consult Professionals in Intellectual Property

For assistance with searches and licensing, speak with an IP expert like to make sure that any IP you produce is properly protected. Many business owners spend lots on their logos and branding but:

  1. Fail to either ensure that it is truly unique to start with and not infringing on anyone else’s IP
  2. Or they don’t protect it by registering a design or Trade Mark where they can, which therefore allows others to copy their name, work, logo or brand and can result in an entire rebranding exercise being needed which is time-consuming and costly.

Protecting your business’ IP may be done in order to prevent others from imitating you, to add value to your company, or to sell or licence to a third party. Protecting your business’ IP adds to your brand and the authenticity of your business as a whole.

Avoid Co-ownership of IP Rights

Try to avoid shared Intellectual Property Rights where possible. The ability to use your rights is always in your best interest. Co-ownership of IP Rights over time may result in misunderstandings and legal problems that endanger the security of these assets, harming all parties concerned. It is important to really consider who should own the IP when registering these, should it be the Limited company or should it be the owner of the company. This becomes particularly important when additional shareholders join a company or if they are sold.

Co-ownership of IP Rights over time may result in misunderstandings and legal problems

Punish Those Who Violate IP Rights

You can’t afford to go soft in business. Keep your Patent, Trade Marks and Registered Designs secure, and defend your legal rights by reporting infringements and bringing legal action against offenders when necessary. There are many legal cases which have resulted in the profit earned through the infringement of IP being paid to the owner of the same IP.

Have Awareness Training for Employees

As is frequently the case, people are the weakest link in the chain of protection. Because of this, an IP security approach that ignores staff training and instead exclusively depends on digital firewalls and Copyrights will fail. If awareness training is customised to the IP assets that a particular group of employees must safeguard, it will help in resolving and preventing potential Intellectual Property infringements. Also, the majority of the time, a company’s Intellectual Property is compromised through error or ineptitude. Make sure the employees are aware of the ways they could mistakenly expose IP. This is particularly important with registered Design and Patents and when they are in the process of being developed or registered. We’ve heard of ‘leaked’ emails and information by staff both current and former.

Gather Proof of Your Intellectual Property

Quite frequently, competitors find out about an idea through leaks and apply for a Patent claiming it as theirs. As a result, you’ll need to demonstrate that you are the legitimate owner. This can be done by keeping a record of the evidence that shows how Intellectual Property Rights have changed, like dated and original copies of drafts. This is also the case for Copyrights. Although in the UK these are automatic, if there is a dispute over whos work something is and one party has dated draft documents and other evidence of the final work coming together they are more likely to be able to succeed in claiming their ownership of that IP.

Get Your IP More Exposure

The best and safest approach to protecting your Intellectual Property is to be the first to apply to register it, where registered design, Patent or Trade Mark. Aside from this, another typical method to guarantee that your IP is acknowledged as being yours is to publish and quote it widely and credit it to your company’s name. The more exposure your IP receives, the more support it will get.

publish your ip widely

Make Investments in IT security

Technology and the internet are used to conduct almost all business today. This has a benefit in that it could encourage an operation’s development, dynamics, and success. However, the use of technology in business also has drawbacks, particularly if your company’s IP is kept in a system that can be hacked, corrupted, or is directly connected to the internet.

Therefore, it is necessary to adopt strong security measures inside your company’s IT infrastructure. These may consist of (1) encryption of data, setting up password security for all computer networks, creating Wi-Fi Protected Access 2, and using VPN.

It is necessary to adopt strong security measures inside your company's IT infrastructure.

Define Your Copyright Policy Clearly

To direct and inform the public on what is appropriate and inappropriate regarding your IP, you may develop your own policies. Although you won’t necessarily be legally protected this way, you may instruct individuals on how to distribute your information properly.

Simply create a list of acceptable and unacceptable ways to use, share, or reproduce your work. Give them rules about what they may do without your written consent and what they should get your consent for.

Register Your Company, Product, or Domain Name

By registering the company, product, or domain name connected to your intended IP, you will further safeguard your ownership of it as well as your identity. To make sure you aren’t choosing a name already in use by someone else, use our Business and Domain Name Search Tool linked below.

search business name

Even if you’re only beginning the planning process for your firm, it will still be beneficial to reserve these names so that nobody else comes up with a similar idea and creates complications.

Your brand includes your company name, your logo, your products and your domain names. It could even include the typography used throughout. Registration will be beneficial even when you are the sole owner with only your name to go by. Additionally, you will have the legal protection that separates your company and Intellectual Property from you personally.

In Closing, it is paramount that businesses to create and implement a plan for their operations, especially when it comes to how IP is handled. Intellectual Property is one of the most valuable assets that you may have, it needs to be safeguarded and managed. The important thing is to take a multifaceted approach, as detailed above, so that you can remain ahead of your competitors at all times.

At Start.Biz, we know how to protect an IP and make it a simple process. We have worked with all kinds of businesses and have the experts to help you with it. Reach out to us today to get the protection you need and realise your business goals!


  • A company can use IP Rights and registrations to block rival products, discourage new competitors, and open up the market for future market share thanks to technical developments.
  • Enlist the aid of a legal representative when creating non-disclosure legal clauses and licence agreements.
  • For assistance with searches and licensing, speak with an IP expert to make sure that any IP you produce is properly protected.
  • Attempt to avoid shared Intellectual Property Rights.
  • Keep your Patent and Trademarks secure, and defend your legal rights by reporting infringements and bringing legal action against offenders when necessary.
  • If training is provided to staff to raise awareness to the IP assets that a business has, it will help in resolving and preventing potential Intellectual Property violations.
  • Keep a record of the evidence that shows how Intellectual Property Rights have changed, like dated and original copies of drafts.
  • Publish and quote your IP widely and credit it to your company’s name. This will give it more exposure and prevent others from claiming it.
  • Adopt strong security measures inside your company’s IT infrastructure.
  • To direct and inform the public on what is appropriate and inappropriate regarding your IP, develop your own policies about acceptable and unacceptable ways to use, share, or reproduce your work.
  • By registering the company, product, or domain name connected to your intended IP, you will further safeguard your ownership of it as well as your identity.

How To Prepare For And Carry Out An IP Audit

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Intellectual Property (IP) rights are increasingly the most valuable and effective tool for businesses in today’s demanding and competitive commercial environment in the UK. Intellectual property refers to intellectual assets, ideas, patents, trademarks, copyright etc. The proper administration of IP rights provides a launchpad for a firm to get ahead. Conducting IP Audits is thus necessary to create a successful and efficient Intellectual Property Asset Management System and to evaluate the company’s current and future intellectual assets. These audits would provide information and recommendations for a methodical approach to the management, protection, and use of intellectual property.

Intellectual property refers to intellectual assets, ideas, patents, trademarks, copyright etc.

What Is An IP Audit?

An Intellectual Property Audit program in the UK identifies IP assets, evaluates their legal status and valuation, and identifies methods for protecting and monetising the said assets. It is a systematic, exhaustive, and solution-focused evaluation of the IP that a UK business owns, utilises, or acquires. An IP Audit can be made to measure to business’ unique requirements, and it often has two main goals:

  1. To foresee and manage risks associated with a business’s IP portfolio and
  2. To allow informed business decisions to be made in relation to IP strategies that help maintain and improve its competitive position in the relevant markets. – You can read more about it in our previous blog.

Is an IP Audit necessary?

It can be an uphill battle for businesses in the UK that are not experienced in the complex IP laws to effectively identify and employ their intangible IP assets as a tool: to achieve their goals, establish a space in the market, and maximise the business’s value, growth, and success.

An IP Audit can assist in achieving business objectives such as:

  • Recognising and keeping track of the company’s IP assets
  • Enhancing the company’s IP asset security
  • Increasing both current and future value
  • Erecting a functional IP administrative framework
  • Estimating the current and future value of IP assets
  • Identifying and managing possible dangers in the future.
  • Identifying and fixing any issues with the IP chain of titles
  • Encourage innovation and creativity
  • Designing a plan to provide protection in important markets
  • Identifying the IP-related advantages, disadvantages, strengths, and dangers.
  • Creating a plan to increase the value of IP assets leading up to a future sale, merger, acquisition, growth, financing, capitalisation, or liquidity event.
  • Cutting expenses


What are the types of IP Audits?

There is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to IP Audits. This is because they are customised to the unique requirements and goals of a firm, but they may typically be divided into three groups: (1) General-Purpose IP Audit, (2) Event-Driven IP Audit, (3) Limited-Purpose IP Audit.


New businesses or those thinking about establishing new IP rules, standards, or processes employ this widest sort of IP Audit.

It is also appropriate for businesses making significant organisational changes, such as new marketing strategies.


The term “IP due diligence” is another name for this kind of examination. It’s used to evaluate the risks and value propositions of a company’s intellectual property assets. Event-driven auditing is frequently used before engaging in a financial deal involving IP (such as an initial public offering), when introducing a new service or product, when thinking about IP licensing, and in situations including bankruptcy and layoffs.


The scope of this IP Audit is the smallest one. It is contextual in type and frequently utilised to support a legal stance or the estimation of a specific intellectual property asset. It can be used in situations like overseas IP filings, engaging in e-commerce, avoiding infringing on third-party copyright content, litigation planning, and IP Law changes.

Magnifying Glass

How to prepare for an IP Audit

It is crucial to establish clarity about the audit's goals, available resources, and strategy before starting the audit process.

It is crucial to establish clarity about the audit’s goals, available resources, and strategy before starting the audit process.

how to prepare for an ip audit


Making sure you understand the goal of the IP Audit is the very first step in planning one. This entails deciding the audit’s type and relevance as well as its time and financial budget. The execution of the audit and its result will be significantly impacted by these decisions.


Compile as much necessary data as you can about your IP assets’ relationships to internal and external relationships, your business plan, other assets, your present IP management position, any ongoing IP issues, and connections to your company’s finance.


An audit plan outlines the business areas that will be examined, the audit’s scope, the time frame, the budget, the duties and assignments of the team, and the format of the final report.


The likelihood of omitting one or more important phases in the auditing is reduced by a thorough checklist. Every checklist is customised to the kind, size, location, and audit scope of each particular organisation. Every individual on the audit team will utilise the checklist.


Any agreements that might significantly affect intellectual property should contain adequate, relevant clauses that can be identified and evaluated. These cover contracts for R&D funding, employees and contract workers, joint ventures and partnerships, licensing, and projects.

How to Carry Out an IP Audit

The required preparatory stages are followed by four primary processes that make up the IP asset audit:

how to carry out an ip audit


The first phase entails a straightforward inventory activity where all intangible assets are listed, and each is given a brief description. This highlights any discrepancies in the utilisation of these assets and specifies how they are being used.


This phase involves determining if all the assets included in the inventory are, in fact, held by your business and, if not, by whom. Where you have ownership of assets, the next step is to determine the kind of ownership (sole, shared, licenced, etc.).

Infringement Check

In this stage, you collect information on any assets that your company owns that may be vulnerable to infringement by third parties, as well as any assets that your company does not own but that may be violating the rights of other parties.

Plan of Protection

This stage highlights possible changes to policies, procedures, and IP management practices and discloses any flaws in the legal, regulatory, and administrative processes associated with the management of IP assets.

What to Do After the IP Audit?

cost benefit analysis

The next step is to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of obtaining IP rights for the assets you have identified.
Protect your IP to protect your business and take action in areas of the market you want to dominate. Once you’ve secured IP rights in the UK, you’ll need to keep an eye on and strategically employ these assets to further your business’s larger commercial goals. This should be supplemented by routinely reviewing trademark and patent databases to keep yourself updated on the actions of rivals and other relevant parties.

At Start.Biz, we help make IP audits a complete breeze and position businesses for success. So, get in touch with us today for all your IP needs and let’s take your business to the next level!


An Intellectual Property audit program identifies IP assets, evaluates their legal status and valuation, and identifies methods for protecting and monetising the said assets.

Conducting IP Audits is necessary to create a successful and efficient Intellectual Property Asset Management System and to evaluate the company’s current and future intellectual assets.

An IP Audit helps identify and assess IP assets and foresee and manage risks associated with a business’s IP portfolio.

IP Audits are of three types: (1) General-Purpose IP Audit, (2) Event-Driven IP Audit, (3) Limited-Purpose IP Audit.

In preparing for the IP Audit, the first step is to understand the goal of the IP Audit. This is followed by researching relevant data about the IP assets, a plan about the audit’s scope, timeframe, and budget, and lastly, contracts that cover things like funding, licensing, R&D etc.

There are four primary processes to carry out an IP Audit. These include listing the assets as part of the inventory, determining the ownership of each asset, checking for infringement, and finally, planning for protection by addressing the management of IP assets.

After completion of the IP Audit, the next step is to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of obtaining IP rights for the assets you have identified.

UK Trade Mark Registration Guide To Get Started

UK Trade Mark Registration Guide To Get Started

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Trade Mark registration in the UK does not have to be a hassle, and there are many advantages once completed. It ensures that when you go on with your day, you have peace of mind knowing that your brand and business name are protected, whether you’re forming a limited company or registering as a sole trader.

Registering a Trade Mark offers you a level of protection. This blog will examine what registering a Trade Mark is and what the benefits are of doing so.

What Does Trade Mark Registration Mean?

You could find it easier to protect your company and brand if you Trade Mark its features such as your business’ logo, company name or even the names of your products or brands within your business.
Your level of brand control will increase, allowing you to sell or licence it as you see fit. If someone uses your branded items without your permission, you are able to ask them to stop doing so and have the option to initiate court proceedings against either the person or business that is doing so. In effect, suing them for doing so. In order to stop others from utilising the Trade Marked name, you may also place the ® sign next to it. This sends a warning to others that you own the Trade Mark and that others are not able to use this.
Find more about Trade Mark Registration in our other blog.

What Can You Register?

When looking at how to register a Trade Mark, you first need to know what you can actually register. UK Trade Mark law is fairly clear on this question. Your Trade Mark can include text, logos, images, and more, but it must be simple to recognise. However, you are not permitted to register derogatory phrases or pictures, and your Trade Mark cannot represent a summary of the products or services you offer. You are also prohibited from Trade Marking any deceptive statements about your company or unoriginal terms and phrases.

It goes without saying that your Trade Mark cannot be identical to something that already exists, but to make sure, check the Intellectual Property Office to see if anyone has previously registered something with the same identity or brand.

Start.Biz is able to undertake Trade Mark searches and offer you advice based on your business’s specific assets and identity. Furthermore, if you do not wish to undertake the process of registering a Trade Mark yourself. can register Trade Marks on your business’ behalf and act as your agent, ensuring no one attempts to register a Trade Mark, which is similar to your business.

What are the Benefits of registering a Trade Marking for your Business?

The name, logo, graphics or branding of your company are in the public domain; this means that they are out in the open and thus open to use by anybody. This can’t happen if you have registered the item as a Trade Mark because when you register it, other businesses hoping to trade under identical names or with the same logo or branding won’t be able to use them.

A Trade Mark is not mandatory, but it can hold the key to success for your business. 

Following are some of the benefits a Trade Mark offers:

BENEFIT 1: Although unregistered Trade Marks used in the sale of goods or services could be legally protected, the burden of proof is on you and is substantially greater in the event that someone copies or infringes upon your work. The burden of evidence is lessened, and the business owner is given additional protections when they have a registered Trade Mark on file. Your Trade Mark will be date registered and held at the Intellectual Property Office as evidence of your ownership.

BENEFIT 2: By filing for Trade Mark registration, you may ensure that your brand is distinct from any existing businesses that have registered a Trade Mark. If you unintentionally use someone else’s name or Trade Mark, you risk being sued by the owner of the registered Trade Mark, having to pay fees and fines, and being forced to forfeit any profits you made using the unregistered mark. Court proceedings can be lengthy and costly in this arena.

BENEFIT 3: By registering your Trade Mark, you may prevent other businesses from using a mark that is identical to yours or one that is very similar and may cause confusion over which business they are contracting with.  A Trade Mark grants your business the only right to use the mark in commerce. You own your brand once you’ve registered your Trade Mark.

BENEFIT 4: If someone uses your Trade Mark without permission, you may be able to sue them. It is possible that the income raised by the use of your Trade Mark could be assigned over to you. 

BENEFIT 5: You can use the sign “®” after your Trade Mark to denote that it has been registered with the Intellectual Property Office ( IPO), raising the status of your business.

BENEFIT 6: If your business plans to grow internationally, you register your Trade Mark globally, but you need to be mindful that you would need to file your application at the national office in each country that you wish to register your Trade Mark, save for within the EU, where you can file your application with the European Union Intellectual Property Office. 

For more on the benefits of Trade Marking, read our previous blog about the 7 reasons why you need to Trade Mark your business in the UK.

How to file a Trade Mark Application?

How to file a Trade Mark Application

You must decide who is registering the Trade Mark, whether you’re doing it on behalf of yourself, this is the case if you’re registered as a sole trader.  If your business has been formed as a Limited Company, the company could own the Trade Mark.  You are also able to use an agent such as Start.Biz or a firm of Solicitors to register your Trade Mark.

Additionally, you’ll need to provide a picture and offer the Trade Mark in an advanced format (one that includes more information than simply the name). A single Trade Mark is for a single phrase, sentence, or design, for example, and a series is the variant of a certain term, expression, logo, etc. It would be helpful to decide whether you require a single or series of Trade Marks before registering.

The Trade Mark class, or the category of your Trade Mark, is important for you to know. Make sure you choose wisely since only the goods and services you list in this section will be covered by the registered Trade Mark.

Follow the steps below on how to get a Trade Mark:

file a trade mark application

Step 1: Search

A Trade Mark search should be your first course of action before filing.

Step 2: Filing a Trade Mark Application

To apply for a UK Trade Mark:

  • Trade Mark name
  • A photograph of your company’s Trade Mark logo (.jpg is preferred);
  • Name and address of the applicant (which may be an individual, a pair of individuals, or a business such as a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) or a corporation);
  • A list of the products and/or services that your Trade Mark is currently being used on or will be used in connection with.

If your application seeks priority from a matching international Trade Mark application, present the application number, filing date, and country of the initial filing.

The UK Intellectual Property Office issues a formal filing receipt 2-4 days after filing. The filing receipt certifies the application’s filing date and provides a number for it.

Step 3: Examination

Your Trade Mark application in the UK will generally be assessed within five to fifteen days.

Your application will be looked at based on the following criteria:

Relative Grounds: If the Examiner determines that your Trade Mark is confusingly similar to a Trade Mark that has already been filed or registered in the UK, he or she will notify the UK applicant. Be aware that the Trade Mark Office won’t reject your Trade Mark if there is a comparable mark.

Absolute Grounds: The Trade Mark’s distinctiveness or descriptiveness is decided by the Examiner. Your mark will be scrutinised by the Examiner to ensure that it is neither offensive nor unethical.

The Examiner may also have other inquiries, such as requesting a clarification of the products or services if they weren’t clear.

In the event an examination objection is lodged, the Examiner will give the applicant time to reply.

Step 4: Publication

The application will be placed in the online Trade Mark Journal when the examination phase is finished. Third parties have two months to submit an objection based on previously unregistered or registered rights.

Confusion with a previously filed or registered Trade Mark is the most frequent basis for an objection.

Bad faith and descriptiveness are two other justifications.

When a third party is involved, they often ask to prolong the objection time by a month in an effort to reach a mutually agreeable solution. Oppositions are frequently settled via the straightforward change of goods or services. Without a formal objection, many cases are settled.


Step 5: Registration

The UK IPO will provide an electronic registration certificate two weeks following publication. There is no longer a paper certificate programme. The electronic copy will be emailed to you.

The registration certificate attests to the registration’s specifics and dates.

As mentioned earlier, you may use the ® sign to denote that your Trade Mark has been registered after the UK Trade Mark application is approved.

You may use the ® sign to denote that your Trade Mark has been registered

What is the timeframe for UK Trade Mark Registration?

If things go smoothly, the registration typically takes four months from the date of application, assuming the examiner will not raise any issues and no one objects to your application.

What is the cost of Trade Marking in the UK?

If you register a Trade Mark yourself in the UK: a single class of products and services, it costs as little as £170 to do so online and £200 by post.

The cost of filing slightly increases with the number of classes covered because each class costs an additional £50. In addition to application and payment, you must provide a fee sheet as well.

You must be aware that if your application is unsuccessful, and it may be for a minor issue, you will forgo your application fee. Further applications will warrant the full application fee again. It is for this reason some business owners prefer to work with an agent such as Start.Biz as this would offer them the security of advice around their application ahead of filing, and any amendments necessary and likely objections are known ahead of paying the application fee.

How long does a Trade Mark last in the UK?

Trade Marks don’t last permanently and must be renewed every ten years if you intend to keep using them. You should note that if you wait until after the six-month period before or after the expiration date, you will not be able to renew it online.

Make your brand your own – Trade Mark it today!

Trade Marks don't last permanently and must be renewed every ten years.

At Start.Biz, we have extensive experience in helping a wide range of businesses with Trade Mark Registration. We make the process hassle-free for our clients and get the job done quickly. Our ultimate goal is the success of your business. So, get in touch with us today for all your Trade Marking needs, and let’s take your business to the next level!


You could find it easier to protect your company and its brand if you Trade Mark its features

Your Trade Mark can comprise of text, logos, images, and more.

Trade Mark lessens the burden of proof in the case of infringement, mitigates the risk of getting sued, prevents other businesses from using a mark identical to yours, allows you to initiate legal proceedings against anyone using your Trade Mark, elevates the status of your business, and assists business growth internationally.

Steps for filing a Trade Mark application in the UK include: (1) Trade Mark search before filing, (2) ensuring the availability of required documents, (3) getting the application examined, (4) getting the application published in the Trade Mark journal, (5) receiving the electronic registration certificate.

UK Trade Mark registration takes about four months.

The application fee if filing directly at the IPO is between £170 and £200 per class and per Trade Mark.

Trade Marks have to be renewed every ten years.

7 reasons why you need to trade mark your business in the UK

Every business has something that makes them unique. It may be your offering, your customer service or your user experience. Whatever it is that sets you above the rest, your business name and branding will come to represent it. Consumers will begin to associate your brand with the feeling they get when buying from you. This is why it is so important that you have full ownership over your intellectual property (IP). There are a few different categories of IP protection, and here we will focus on trade marking. We will outline exactly what can be trade marked, the benefits of protecting your IP and an introduction to the mark registration process.

What is a Trade Mark?

A trade mark is a type of Intellectual Property (IP) connected with a particular company, product or service. Trade marks can be words, names, initials, logos, monograms, shapes or signatures, numerals and designs. They are something that customers recognise and associate with your good reputation and the quality of your product or service.

The Importance of Trade Marks

Alongside the obvious advantages of protecting your brand, trade marks can benefit your business in a multitude of ways.

It’s the Identity of Your Business

The identity of your company is the number 1 asset you have as a business owner. This is the bedrock of a successful business and will be the foundation from which to grow. Therefore it is essential to ensure that your branding is indicative of the mission of the business and does not infringe on anyone else’s intellectual property. Having this established from the start will help prevent confusion or issues further down the line.

Effective Communication Tool

For potential customers that don’t know your business, the brand is a great way to communicate what your company is about. A distinctive and polished logo will instil trust in people interacting with your company for the first time. A strong brand will also be the way you create super-fans, and these are key in developing your business. A study found that 83% of people are more likely to buy from a business recommended by family or friends than pay attention to advertising (Neilson Study). Creating a core of customers that feel an authentic connection with a brand and then go and tell others about it is the most effective form of customer acquisition.


Builds Brand Reputation

Consistency is key when building your company and applies to every area, from product to customer service to advertising. Marketing guru, Dr Jeffrey Lant, devised the ‘Rule of 7’ marketing theory. He argues that a potential client is most likely to buy from you after encountering your business roughly 7 times within 18 months. These numbers vary depending on industry and the type of business, but it is unusual for most customers to buy from you the first time they are made aware of you. They want to get to know you, and you need to build trust with them. In the age of information overload, having a clearly identifiable brand ensures that every time one of these ‘touch points’ happens, they know it’s you and understand clearly what you’re about. Your hard work builds this reputation, but a trade mark protects it.

Provides Exclusive Rights

As a business owner, intellectual property protection may not be the most pressing task on your to-do list. However, it is vital to protect all the hard work you have put into your venture. Also, establishing IP protection or at least an understanding of your business’ IP through an IP audit is highly recommended. You may accidentally be infringing on someone else’s IP, or if someone raises an objection against you, having IP protection in place will make it far easier to settle the case quickly. As a business owner, you should also be maintaining your trade mark through aWatching Search’ service. Registered marks can lose their integrity if other similar marks are registered without objection. This will eventually lead to them becoming null and void and unenforceable. The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is under no obligation to alert you of such applications, so regularly having an IP agent conduct this search on your behalf is the best way to ensure your mark is upheld.

Trade Marks Do Not Expire If Renewed Every 10 Years

Unlike other forms of IP protection, trade marks can be renewed indefinitely. Registered designs, which protect the appearance of an object, last for 25 years and patents for up to 20 years in the UK. Both services need to be renewed regularly, and enforceable protection ceases once they have reached their full terms. The reason patents and registered design protection runs out is to prevent monopolies and encourage technological advancements. However, a trade mark is different, it’s not an idea but the signature of your business. If you have registered your trade mark and maintained it, it will remain enforceable for the entire lifecycle of your venture.

Valuable Asset

The IPO (Intellectual Property Office) released figures in 2021 that found ‘Intellectual Property can account for more than 70% of your business’ value, far outweighing the physical assets of the business. This impressive statistic outlines the importance of having protected ownership over your IP. If you come to sell your business, potential buyers will want to know what they are actually purchasing. The physical elements are easy to produce, but on the asset sheet, you can’t forget about the value of your brand. After all, your reputation is what got you to the point of being successful enough to sell the business. A valid trade mark will also come into play if you seek investment. Similar to potential buyers, investors will want to have reassurances about your business and de-risk their capital investment. Having a trade mark is a sign of prestige, enables a monetary value to be put on your business’ brand and is a tangible asset to be added to your business’ asset sheet.

Makes Hiring Easier

It is not only potential customers that are reassured by an established name; future employees will also be encouraged to work for you. The job market is the toughest it’s ever been for employers. The combination of ‘The Great Resignation’, Covid, Brexit and a societal shift in attitude towards how we work has contributed to the ball being very firmly in the employees’ court. To attract top talent and retain them, having a great reputation will catch job seekers’ eyes and get them excited to apply for opportunities to join your team.

How to Register a Trade Mark

Choose a Unique Name

It’s best to choose a few names that you would be happy with and try them out before committing. There are many different types of names to consider; like do you want something quite factual so potential customers can immediately identify what you do? Alternatively, it could be a ‘storytelling’ name that represents the narrative behind the brand. If you are stuck on how to choose the perfect name for your company, we have written an article just for you – check it out here.

Conduct a Name Search

When setting up your business, conduct a name search and research your chosen business name. IP experts can assist you with this and alert you to any businesses currently operating under a similar name or any issues there may be. For example, there are a few prohibited words that cannot be legally used unless a specific application is made to the relevant authorities. You will also want to understand how easily a trade mark could be registered, and for this, it is advisable to seek an IP audit from an expert. can help with any questions you have – learn more about our IP audits here.

How to register a trade mark

Register a Trade Mark Application

Once all the research has been done and you have received advice from an IP expert, it’s time to register your trade mark. An IP expert can complete these forms on your behalf and take care of all the administration involved. You can apply to the IPO as an individual; however, it can be a complicated and time-consuming process with no guarantee your mark will be accepted. has been registering trade marks for over 35 years and is here to help you every step of the way. The application process usually takes approximately 5 months, and your trade mark will need to be renewed every 10 years.


According to annual reports from the IPO, ‘trade mark applications increased by 27.4% to record lestarvels of 137,035 applications in 2020’ and continue to grow year on year, which means that securing your IP protection is more important than ever. A trade mark is a great way to build your reputation, protect against any copycats and add value to your business. are here to take care of the process of registering your trade mark giving you the protection you need and peace of mind. Get in touch today for a free IP audit.

All you need to know about Intellectual Property (IP) Audits in the UK

All about IP Audits in UK

This article will explain what Intellectual Property (IP) is, the benefits of fully understanding your IP, and how to maximise this often-overlooked asset. We speak to business owners daily about their professional business service needs, and one thing that often gets lost in the mix is their IP protection. Many consider it an issue for larger companies, designers, or inventors; however, as experienced IP experts, we know it can be one of any business’s most valuable assets. We also know how much of a headache it can be in cases of copying or unintentional infringement. In this article, we’ll get you IP savvy and outline the importance of an IP audit for your business.

What is Intellectual Property (IP)?

Intellectual Property (IP) refers to many different creative outputs your business may have or use commercially. A universal type of IP across different industries is branding. This could be the name of your business, the logo, or the two combined. Every size and type of business will have some sort of IP that is valuable – exactly what it is and how best to protect it needs to be investigated.

What are the different types of IP?

There are several forms of Intellectual Property. Some are automatically covered upon their creation, others need a formal process to be legally protected, but all require action to uphold their integrity.

different types of intellectual properties

Copyright ©

This is automatically covered in UK law when a new piece of writing, photography, music, or recording is created. If you wish to enforce your ownership of the IP and prevent others from copying, you will have to issue a cease-and-desist notice. If this is ignored, then you may have to initiate court proceedings.

Business Name Registration

‘Passing off’ is a common law action that can be used to protect unregistered trade mark rights in the UK. For example, if you believe another business is copying your business’ name and customers may confuse the two operations, you can legally ask the company to cease and desist. However, you will be responsible for the legal fees should the case go to court, and it could take some time to resolve. offer Business Name Registration to cover this exact situation. For a low yearly fee, will take care of all administration and cover your court fees up to £10,000.

Trade Marks (TM)

You can trade mark a name, word, logo, monogram, shape, letters, numerals, signature, or any combination of these. It takes around 5 months to secure a trade mark in the UK; however, your intellectual property protection rights start the day you submit your application. Trade marks are renewable every 10 years, with a 6-month window on either side. To maintain the validity of your trade mark, you should put a watching search in place. This will alert you to any other parties registering similar marks that may infringe on your intellectual property. Trade marks can last indefinitely, however, they need to be maintained and potential conflicting applications flagged to retain their validity.

Registered Design (RD)

A registered design protects the appearance, physical shape, configuration, and decoration of products. After approval has been given for protection, you will need to renew every 5 years up to a maximum of 25 years.


Patents are designed to protect a new process through a technical solution. These are usually applied for by inventors or larger companies in the manufacturing or pharmaceutical industries. A patent lasts 5 years in the UK. After this time, it will have to be renewed every year up to a maximum of 20 years.

Geographical Indications (GI)

This type of IP relates to food, drink or produce from a particular area or is made using a traditional method. Examples are Stilton cheese or Champagne. GI indicates to consumers the origin and authenticity of a product. You can register a product under a current scheme or apply for a new scheme to be added to the register.

Types of IP Audits

Now that we have a better understanding of what IP is, let’s look at why an IP audit could be useful to your business.

types of ip audt

General Purpose IP Audit

It is useful to conduct a General Purpose IP Audit as early as possible in your company’s life cycle and continually as you introduce new products, brands, or creative output. It should be conducted as part of your market research, and protection should be put in place before the asset goes out into the public consciousness. This will not only deter potential copiers but also make you aware if you are unintentionally infringing on anyone else’s IP. Once you have a comprehensive understanding of all the IP your business has, you will be able to put a monetary value on it and turn it into a tangible asset for the company.

Event-Driven IP Audit

Businesses do not always grow in a linear way to fit a General Purpose IP Audit. This is where we see audits being carried out after a period of time due to an event. These Event-Driven IP Audits usually fall into 3 categories:

  • An infringement has occurred, and the company wishes to take action.
  • The business owner is looking to sell.
  • Outside investment is being sought.

If an incident has occurred where a business believes its IP has been violated, in most cases, they must first have intellectual property protection in place. The onus is on them to prove there has been an infringement, and this can be a complicated process. We would always advise seeking an expert opinion before initiating proceedings.
In the case of wishing to sell the business, when conducting due diligence, any potential buyer of the company will want to fully understand what they are purchasing. If you don’t have any intellectual property rights to your brand, products, or services, it will reduce the interest from buyers.
Similarly, potential investors will want to understand the business’ assets and gain reassurance of its protected competitive edge. A great idea might grab their attention, but they will not view the company as a sound opportunity if there is no intellectual property protection in place.

Limited Purpose IP Audit

Limited purpose refers to an activity a business carries out that is only meant for internal use. Understanding your business’s intellectual property is incredibly important, not only to protect your IP but also to ensure you’re not infringing on others’ IP. Many business owners have a deep connection to the name and brand they are building, so it is essential you review your IP and business plan together to ensure you’re not building something that may be an issue further down the line. Many IP experts offer free consultations that will give you a top-line view of any potential problems. There may be budgetary constraints for small businesses; however, putting in place correct IP protection from the start can save you time and money in the long run.

The Importance of IP Audits

We’ve looked at the different types of IP audits and what they can mean for the business; now, let’s see what intellectual property protection audits can do for a company in relation to the wider marketplace.

types of ip audt

Identifying New Opportunities

As mentioned previously, an intellectual property audit should be carried out in conjunction with your market and competitor research. Not only will this help you determine potential developments in your offering, but it will also help you pinpoint what is unique about your company. Depending on your industry and business, it may also encourage innovation in your product development or engineering department. Conversely, it will also outline what features of your competitor’s offering aren’t protected by intellectual property law, allowing you to plan your marketing and product development strategy accordingly.

Customer Perception

If you spent time getting an IP audit and protecting your creative output, the business needs to be communicating that to potential customers. Consumers will not care that you have a trade mark or any other form of IP protection, but they will buy into a unique brand. It’s about storytelling, brand building, and having a distinctive voice that sets you apart. Ensuring no one can imitate your brand will only make it stronger and enable you to resonate effectively with your ideal customer.

Preventing Costly Disputes

Intellectual property law can be complicated, and the process to either defend or prevent another company from infringing can be lengthy. The average lawyer will charge around £250 per hour, and these cases can continue for months, if not years. The best way to prevent this is to secure your IP protection early, ideally before launching the business.


Through an Intellectual Property Audit, you can understand the assets your business has, build a strong brand identity, and distinguish yourself from your competitors. Whether you are planning on selling your business or not, preventing copycats is invaluable to the health of your venture. Considering the different types of IP protection for your business will allow you to improve your business plan, strategies, and marketing efforts. After all, knowledge is power! teams up with newly renovated JQ Modern to provide an advice clinic for local businesses teams up with newly renovated JQ Modern to provide an advice clinic for local businesses

We’re taking our free business advice clinics on the road and holding one in the newly renovated JQ Modern in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham on 13th September 2022. specialise in: Intellectual Property (IP) protection, ‘Access to Finance’ and business services & compliance. To book your place please register here.

JQ Modern (formerly The Big Peg) has undergone a £5m refurbishment to create the most stylish private offices in the Jewellery Quarter.

The iconic landmark building now offers stunning private offices and boutique communal lounges with fresh coffee, meeting rooms and a stylish new reception. The transformation included the installation of a fully live 10GB internet connection providing superfast wifi throughout the building. All of this in a location with a train station, a tram stop, several bus routes, cycle parking and a 10 minute walk from the city core, but with a neighbourhood feel.

Sky high on the 7th floor, flooded with natural daylight are JQ Modern’s fully serviced offices – named LUX, meaning light. Ideal for businesses of up to 5, with impressive views of Birmingham and beyond, these characterful offices are available on flexible terms and come fully equipped.

For growing teams, the building offers scalable options of up to 50 people.

Tara Elwell, Sales & Marketing Manager said ‘JQ Modern offers everything you need with great facilities on flexible and affordable terms. We can provide options to scale up over time. We have fantastic communal spaces for when you want to step out of your private office. These are great for making new connections, as is our events programme. We are building the most exciting community of dynamic small businesses in the city.’

Matthew Cusack, Director at said of the upcoming business advice clinic, ‘We find these face-to-face sessions really productive when it comes to solving challenges businesses are currently facing and we’re really keen to take these sessions to different areas to broaden our reach. JQ Modern is a fantastic space and the refurbishment has further enhanced the thriving Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham.’

To learn more or enquire about pricing and office availability please visit their website.

Our Intellectual Property Story

“Should we just pull out of the deal? If we don’t own the IP when we complete then what are we actually buying?”

Bevan and I had to ask ourselves these questions when we were going through the acquisition process of Start.Biz. The business had been trading in one form or another for 36 years when we acquired it. Its core offering was to protect other business’ Intellectual Property and yet when we came to buy it, we realised that it hadn’t taken the necessary steps to protect its own. Could this situation have been more ironic?!

The brand that the business was trading under had been in operation for over 30 years and was synonymous with the trading activity of the business itself. Whilst we had valued the business based on a multiple of profits, we were acutely aware that we were inheriting a ready-made brand with customers who had been loyal to it for decades. So, without owning the IP, we were putting ourselves (and our families, homes etc) at massive risk by completing on a transaction and potentially buying thin air.

Poking the bear

For a variety of reasons (legal and organisational), we were in a situation six weeks before completion where we were totally unclear as to who owned the Intellectual Property.

This matter only came to light as a result of our Due Diligence – up to that juncture, the Sellers believed that any IP was owned by the business. As a result of our questioning, we had identified that there was a third party who had made claim to owning the IP and was demanding hefty sums of money to release any claim to it.


The acquisition had been rolling on for nearly seven months when this came to light and had been a rollercoaster mainly driven by financial challenges; the last thing we expected to potentially scupper the deal was one surrounding Intellectual Property. As we didn’t own the business, we couldn’t take the case on and so we had to work with the Sellers on overcoming this challenge.

We were at an impasse, as we didn’t want to buy a business that didn’t have ownership over its name, brand and goodwill; whilst the Sellers were not prepared to sell as had they done so without this being resolved then they would have breached the legal documents associated with the transaction itself.

The price of victory

Thankfully, our Sellers had been around the block and were savvy enough to have retained copies of all documentation and notes/recordings of verbal conversations held. As with all things though, resolution came at a cost…. The legal fees associated with successfully concluding the matter were over £10,000 and delayed completing on the deal by more than two months.

We had finally overcome our last hurdle albeit we were poorer, a bit more stressed and with some more grey streaks in our hair!

Most importantly, we were able to buy the business and focus on driving it forwards rather than being laden down with legacy issues that would have hindered our growth and profitability in the first 12 months after we owned

So what?

Peace of mind and ultimately an ability to reap the rewards of a lot of hard work.

IP is often sold on the basis of fear when it should be sold on value. Now more than ever, brand identity and messaging are critical in generating goodwill and market value for businesses. Protecting IP preserves a business’ value and all of the blood, sweat and tears that has gone in behind the scenes to make that happen.

In our case, had this matter not been resolved then the deal would have fallen through, and the Sellers would have been left with a business that they couldn’t sell having spent 36 years building it up. All for what should have cost no more than £500 – £600 to protect in the first place. When the stakes are so high, the question to ask is not “So what?” but rather “Why not?”