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Posted 18 February 2014
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Six good reasons to register a trade mark

1. Protect brand identity
Residential and holiday parks build up significant goodwill in their names and logos and generating business depends more and more on a strong online presence – which requires a strong brand.  Why would anyone give others a free ride on their hard-earned reputation?

2. Deter copycats
Competitors setting up new parks can easily check the trade mark register to see if the name is already being used.  They may be able to discover its existence from a simple Google search (or of course they may already know of it and be looking for a free ride) but they may not be deterred if it is not trade marked.  However if they see that the name is protected as a registered trade marked, most will decide not to use it.

3. Avoid damage to reputation
It is not just a question of customers being poached.  If a rival park of lesser quality, perhaps with lower standards or less accreditations or adverse comments on Tripadvisor, refers to another park’s name in a way which suggests an association with that park, that can seriously damage the better park’s reputation.  Free riding is easier to prevent if the park name is a registered trade mark.

4. Unsafe to rely just on company and domain names
Owning a company name and/or an internet domain name does not prevent competitors using it. If a new park starts using a domain name the same as or similar to the name of another, already well established park, they cannot easily be stopped if the name is not a registered trade mark.  The only way would be via the common law claim of passing off.  Not only is passing off difficult and expensive to prove, it is only available once there is  already a risk of a rival damaging the business.  The innocent party would have to produce evidence that a significant number of his customers have been or will be confused into thinking that the rival park is actually his park.  In the parks world this is rarely feasible.

5. Enforcement is easier and cheaper with a trade mark
Trade marks are a cost effective way of protecting one’s hard earned reputation from competitors trying to use one’s name to poach one’s customers or damage one’s reputation.  Enforcing a registered trade mark may be as straightforward as showing that the infringer has used the trade mark, without having to prove any loss, and action can be taken before the infringer has even begun trading.  Usually a letter enclosing the trade mark registration and threatening legal action is enough without ever resorting to court proceedings.  Even if court action becomes necessary to enforce the trade mark, recent reforms have created a special court process that is designed to be quick and cost effective.

6. Add value to assets
A strong, well protected brand may be recognised in valuation terms, enabling the park owner one day to realise the goodwill he has built up over the years and in the meantime improving the loan to value ratio of the business.

For more advice or help to register a trade mark for a fixed fee, contact Jill Headford on 01392 667688 or j.headford@tozers.co.uk

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