Trade marks

Selecting a strong trade mark


Choosing a mark that will function as a trade mark is extremely important for any business.

What makes a strong trade mark?

While there are no fixed rules on what makes a successful trade mark, here are some things which you will need to consider to make sure you choose a good mark.

Make it memorable

Avoid generic, descriptive and suggestive marks and choose memorable and distinctive words. For example, arbitrary marks (such as Apple for a computer) and coined words (such as Google) are more likely to be considered distinct. The stronger and more distinctive the mark is, the easier it can be to register and protect it.

Make sure you can register it

Your mark will need to meet certain requirements in order to be eligible for registration. To begin with, it has to be unique and sufficiently distinctive for the category of goods and services you wish to use it for. See what is a trade mark.

Select the right class/classes

Consider which class or classes you wish to protect your goods and services in. The UK trade mark classification system is divided between classes 1 to 34 (goods) and classes 35 to 45 (services). You can register a trade mark under multiple classes. 

Carry out a trade mark search

A trade mark search will help you determine if the mark you intend to use is available in the UK or in other markets. If you come across a mark that has expired or does not appear to be in use, you will want to proceed with caution - it is possible to restore marks in certain circumstances. See how to search for trade marks.

If you find a same or similar mark already in use, you may want to consider licensing or acquisition. In some cases, you may be able to file for revocation, cancellation or invalidation of an earlier mark. Read about objecting to and challenging trade marks.

Consider other markets

Think about how your mark will be perceived not only in your domestic market, but in overseas markets also. This is essential if you export or plan to export your goods and services abroad. Find out how to register a trade mark outside the UK.

Consider other assets, eg domain names and social media

Trade mark registration doesn't automatically give you the right to a matching business name or domain name or social media handle. These are separate assets and you may need to buy or manage them separately. Read about domain name and trade mark conflicts.

Seek advice early

Trade mark registration can be complex. If in doubt, you may wish to seek advice from a chartered trade mark attorney.

Businesses in Northern Ireland may also get intellectual property advice from Invest Northern Ireland's business advisers. Get intellectual property support from Invest NI.

  • Invest NI Helpline
    0800 181 4422
  • IPO Information Centre
    0300 300 2000