The Sunday Business Post has published its list of 100 Hot Start-ups showcasing a cross section of the vibrant startup scene in Ireland. Aside from a curious inclusion of a Five Guys franchise as an Irish start-up, the publication is excellent and highlights innovative entrepreneurs and companies across a wide range of industry sectors.
Something that immediately strikes us as IP lawyers is the range of creative brand names for these ventures. No doubt some have put a huge amount of time and effort into ideating the brand names, and believe that they own them…
However, the only way for a start-up or emerging business to legally own a brand name is to register it as a trademark. Moreover, trademark registrations are territorial, meaning rights only extend to the geographical markets covered by any registrations. While company name registration, business name registration and domain name registration are all very important, none actually grants exclusive rights in the name. The only way to get exclusive legal rights in a brand name is to register it as a trademark.
A quick search on trademark registers for a representative sample of the brand names in the publication shows that a surprising number have not yet been protected as trademarks. In Europe registered trademark rights are obtained on a “first to file” basis. It’s important for start-ups and emerging companies to get this sorted early, and to secure legal ownership of the brand name by trademark registration, before someone else gets there first and causes a problem… At the very least get advice on it so you know where you stand. Any start-ups with questions about how to protect a brand name as a registered trademark efficiently and cost-effectively, do get in touch with us to discuss.