Ep 105: Trademarking your business name

2 Oct 2023

In this episode I share my experience of trademarking my business name


youTube video https://youtu.be/gxtAZ2nyVMg?si=lIoSBUlckXWpT3X1

Find us at https://beyondthekitchentable.co.uk

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Blog post https://beyondthekitchentable.co.uk/business-books-to-read-this-summer

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Email sayhello@beyondthekitchentable.co.uk


Hello, and welcome to episode number 105. The website, coach podcast. This week. I'm going to talk to you about something I haven't spoken about before. And to be honest, probably never will. Again. Something completely different. And that is trademarking your business name. Now before you think I've changed what I do. I haven't, I'm not a lawyer. I'm still a website designer. So please do not take this as legal advice. And in fact, if you have any queries, then do go and talk to a lawyer. But the reason I'm talking to you about this subject this week is because I have just trademark my business name. Beyond the kitchen table. And I've had lots of questions from people about it. So I thought it would be helpful to talk about my experience. Which let's just say was a little bit of a roller coaster. You got to listen further on to find out what happened. My application went in back in June and it's only just come through on the 30th of September. It's taken three and a half months to get. I'm going to share why I decided to get my business name, trademarked the benefits. If you like. I'm also going to share why I didn't do it early in my business. Oh, I regret that decision. The process that I went through and the issues that I faced, as I say, there was some drama along the way. So, first of all, why should you trademark, your business name? Well, the first reason is hugely important. In the D legally safeguards your business name. Of course it does. But your business name is not just a catchy phrase. It has value. It's what you're known as you've probably got a website in that name. Social media. Maybe signage business cards or other branded merchandise. You have built brand value. And was that a registered trademark? Somebody else could come along and take that away. Someone else could use exactly the same business name. And what's worse is they could register it. And if they trademarked it before you trademarked yours. And they could stop you using your business name in the future. Just think about that for a moment. Somebody else could stop you using your business name. If you don't have it trademarked. And even if they didn't trade market, Having somebody else with the same or a similar name could cause confusion amongst your customers. And indeed they could harm your brand's reputation by trademarking your business name. You are shielding your business from the worst case scenario. Either having to rebrand or alternatively having your brand name trashed by somebody else. And I think that's pretty powerful reason. And yes, I wish I had done it earlier. The second reason is it allows you to bring action. If others attempt to copy what you do. In theory. I know that you don't need to have your business name, trademark to stop someone passing off as your business. But I do know that having gone through trademarking, it gives precisely this protection. People can and probably will attempt to copy your business. Having your business named trademark. Means they can't get too close to your business name. You can use the threat of legal action. Many years ago, I was helping someone set up a business with a name that started with IBM. It happened to be the initials of the person running the new business. As soon as we've registered the business at company's house, we hadn't even got as far as trademarking. We got a strongly worded letter from IBM, the computer giant. Accusing us of attempting to pass off. What we were doing has been part of IBM. Now, what we were doing was completely different. But after receiving the letter, we decided to rebrand. Hello. I did persuade IBM to pay for the rebrand. As I told them, they didn't have a legal standard, which is true because they hadn't trademarked IBM in the class of business that we were in. Anyway. Trademarking your business name gives you this kind of legal cloud. The third reason is it sends a clear message that you are serious about your business. I've often said that one of the benefits of having a website is it gives you credibility. It shows that you mean business. I think trademarking your business name is the next step. By making the investment in trademarking, the business name, it shows that you are really serious about making this business work. You're not going to disappear quickly. The fourth reason is to do with attracting investors and going into partnerships. I think if you ever want to bring outside investment into your business or indeed go into partnership with somebody else with your name. Having trademark, your business is. Crucially important. People are more likely to invest in or collaborate with a brand that's legally protected. It protects against the risk of having to rebrand. Again, it shows that you're serious about your business and its longevity. And the fifth reason is it gives you peace of mind. And I don't think this one should be underestimated. I've been in business almost six years as beyond the kitchen table. And I've had the name for longer than that. And while it wasn't trademarked, I was aware that somebody else could come along and take that brand name. And I could lose it. And so just putting in the application and getting the trademark through has given me peace of mind. It might sound really silly, but I'm going to talk about what happened during the three and a half months between putting in my application and getting it approved. Because until I got it back just last week, I was worried that I might lose the business name. Somebody else could get their first. Now that I have the business name trademark. Nobody else can take that away from me. At least in the UK. Trademark in the UK doesn't cover internationally. It only covers you in the UK. So why didn't I do it earlier? Well, when I first started out like many businesses, I had no idea where my business was going to go, or even whether it was going to be viable, whether it was still going to be around in a couple of years time, because a lot of businesses aren't. And registering a trademark seemed like an unnecessary expense at that stage. I also see, I need to involve a lawyer. There are plenty of lawyers who are specialists in this area. And therefore, I thought you had to use the lawyer. Um, you don't, by the way. I also assumed it was complicated and expensive. And then at some point I reached the point where I thought I really should do this. Because I was worried that somebody else could trademark the name. Now I had the domain name. both@dotcodotukandthe.com anyway. I don't have all the social media handles. That's another story. But I do run a limited company. And the name registered at company's house is beyond the kitchen table limited. So I knew there were barriers to somebody else getting in there. But there was still that nagging feeling that I might have an issue with somebody else. But I didn't make it a priority because. I assumed I'd need somebody to do it for me, it would be complicated and expensive. And I have lots of other things today and things to invest in. And I didn't get around to it until this year. So why this year. Truthfully. Because when I was with a group of other entrepreneurs or business owners at a business retreat in Marrakesh in March. It came up. And several people told me it was really easy. They were actually going to help me walk me through it. Um, other that didn't happen. We got dry sidetracked on something else. So how easy is it? The answer is it's incredibly easy. I followed a 12 minute YouTube video. I'm not kidding. I'm going to tell you about that in a moment. It does take awhile though. As I mentioned, it took me three and a half months between putting in the application and getting it through. I think that's about the quickest that can be done. It just went through the normal process. When you register a trademark, you have to choose the class. And there are, I don't know how many classes, probably a hundred or something like that. And the classes relate to different industries. So I chose one particular class, which covers website design. It doesn't just cover a website design. It covers all sorts of other design as well. So if I wanted to use my business name in other fields of design, I can certainly do so. But it doesn't stop somebody who's doing something completely different. Like for example, a restaurant. Which would be in a different class. It wouldn't stop a restaurant using the name. But what it means is people who do something similar to me, cannot use my business name. So the first thing that you have to do is you have to work out which class you want to register. You're trademarking. And you can choose more than one class. You just pay a bit more, depending upon the number of classes that you choose. I chose one class and it cost me 170 pounds. I can't remember the cost for each additional class, but it's less than 170 pounds for additional classes. And how did I do. Well, as I say it didn't take me very long at all. Probably half an hour or so. I followed a YouTube tutorial by somebody called Luca Davenport. I can't patch for him. But the YouTube video was really, really clear. It's 12 minutes long and I put the link to it in the show notes. And I say it didn't take me much longer than that actually filed the application. It was really quick and really easy. I did do one step slightly differently to the way he instructs. He suggests that when you make the application, you do so in a way, can't remember what it's called, but you get the IPO to check it first. And if they advise you that it all looks fine, then you go ahead. And if they advise you that somebody else has registered in that class with a similar name, It means you can stop the application and you don't end up paying as much. But that was more expensive overall. I was confident nobody else had the same name in my class. I did check. So I just went for it. It was very straightforward to do. And I did not involve a lawyer. All good, safer. However, I then hit an issue. I got a letter back pretty quickly from the IPO, which is who you make the application team. And it said that there was another business registered in the same class as mine with a similar name. And they were minded not to approve my application for that reason. Yes. I was devastated when that came through. I'm not going to lie. And the bizarre thing is I was aware of this other business. Because they're local to me. But they do something different and then name is different. Slightly different. There beyond the table, whereas I am beyond the kitchen table. They teach people how to style, dining tables, et cetera. And because interior design is the same trademark class as website design. Their trademark was in the same class as I was applying for. They set up in business after me. I didn't realize they trademarked the name. And yes, I was very annoyed with myself when I realized that the fact that they set up after me made no difference. My fanning about delaying trademarking. My business name nearly cost me my business name. No, I don't give up that easily. I asked her advice in the Facebook group. I'm in with other small business owners and realized my situation was not unique. There was several other business owners who had had something similar. And there were different things that I could do. I decided to write back to the IPO and explain how our businesses were very different. And I didn't see why any confusion with a car. And the IPO responded as well as publicizing application and the officials, journalists, normal. They would have to write a notify beyond the table. Q a couple of nervous months to see if anybody would object. Fortunately and completely coincidentally, I hit time for my application. So the notice period was over the summer holidays. And I think that's a really good time to do it because I don't think as many people are focused on it. If you're up against a large corporate with a big legal team, then of course, they're going to be receiving these kinds of notices and they're going to be on the ball. But I think for a lot of other businesses, Frankly over the summer, people have got so much going on. The juggling so many things, and they're probably not keeping such a close eye on these kinds of notifications. But I still worried. I'm worried. I might lose the right to use my business name and I'm very attached to beyond the kitchen table. I can tell you. Orientate. I might have to employ an expensive lawyer to argue my case. As it happened, there was a happy ending. There were no objections. And the trademark came through last week. I was so relieved. I can tell you. But yes, I kicked myself because I wished I had done it sooner. I would've saved myself a lot of stress over the summer. That's it for this week. I hope you have a great week. And I will see you all again next week.