Trade marks can apply to words, logos, colours, shapes, drawings, even sounds and smells. They are a badge of origin that allows a customer to see a brand or product, recognise it and know how they can repeat that transaction again.

A trade mark is a reference point for individuals over what they are trying to protect - a name, something they wish to sell, the name given to a product or the masthead of a series of products. Some bigger brands have sub-names and sub-brands, allowing them to build up a relevant trade mark portfolio and enjoy more protection.

Trade marks are usually one of the first elements people look to secure when they have created a new product or service. It is often the case that they might create a name, brand and look for their product before looking to secure a trade mark. However, if the trade mark is unavailable, they may have to begin the whole process again to secure a mark which fits with the product.

Unlike patents, you can potentially own a trade mark forever if you continue to pay the renewal fees every ten years.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.