Entrepreneurs keen to capitalise on Britain’s burgeoning economic recovery are being warned to beware of trademark infringement before launching their new businesses.
Commercial solicitor Mark Howell of Coles Miller is urging companies to carry out proper trademark research before investing large sums in business start-ups.
His warning follows reports that investment in UK businesses has increased for five consecutive quarters for the first time since 1998.
Q1 2014 saw the UK economy grow at its fastest rate since 2007 - 0.8 per cent - according to the Office for National Statistics.
The improving economic climate opens the door for the launch of more business start-ups.
But Mr Howell is concerned that some entrepreneurs can get caught up in the excitement of starting a new venture without first checking to see if the name has already been registered.
“They commission stationery and signage without first registering a trademark. They risk potentially having to change the name of the business with all the cost that entails,” he said.
“As bars, restaurants and high street shops depend heavily on branding to attract customers, they are particularly vulnerable. You have a street frontage that thousands of people see,” he added.
“Many small business owners do not go through the proper checks. They often get carried away with enthusiasm and tend to focus on immediate practicalities rather than strategic issues."
Registering a trademark through the correct legal channels gives you the security of knowing that you own your brand and deters competitors from copying it.
It also makes it quicker, easier - and therefore potentially less costly - to take legal action should any infringement take place.
To sue a competitor successfully for ‘passing off’ - the legal redress for infringement of an unregistered trademark in the UK - a person must establish that:
- they have established rights in the mark through trading
- members of the public have been confused by the competing mark
- actual harm has occurred as a result of the alleged infringement.
Dorset-based Coles Miller has one of the largest teams of commercial solicitors in the Bournemouth Poole conurbation.
They provide expert legal advice to companies across the South on trademarks and all other aspects of business law.
The team also helps business clients with start-ups, mergers and acquisitions, partnerships, joint ventures, management buy-outs and buy-ins, reorganisations and contracts.
Other services include commercial property conveyancing, litigation and dispute resolution, employment law, debt recovery and marine law. The firm has specialist expertise in the hotel and leisure industry.
Coles Miller also acts for clients all over the UK in cases involving compensation claims for damage allegedly suffered as a result of interest rate swaps.
Coles Miller has 14 Partners and 115 staff. They are based at five offices in Bournemouth, Poole, Broadstone, Charminster and Wimborne.
For further details, contact Coles Miller LLP on 01202 673011.