Brands don’t stay still…and neither do their trade marks anymore

For the first time in UK history, a moving trade mark has been registered after fundamental changes were made to the law earlier this year.

Toshiba is leading the way, according to the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO), becoming the first organisation to successfully register a distinctive multimedia ‘motion’ mark.

Toshiba’s Origami-based moving trade mark was created by the company to reflect its brand and Japanese heritage.

While it was technically feasible to register a ‘motion’ mark before the changes were enacted to the law in January this year, each submission needed to be carefully graphically, illustrated.

However, the new rules allow for applicants to submit moving images, holograms and sounds as part of their trade mark application via a multimedia file, such as an MP4.

This has simplified the system and made it easier for businesses to protect their iconic branding.

Although Toshiba is the first to have a motion trade mark registered, others are also making use of the new rules, including Google who has successfully been granted a trade mark for a hologram of their famous logo. The only aspect of the new trade mark legislation yet to be tested by a business is the sound-related trade mark.

Reflecting on what the changes mean, Andrew Murch, a trade mark attorney at London law firm iLaw, said: “The 2015 Trade Marks Directive, which came into force this year, has radically changed how companies can protect their branding.

“It has been technically possible to register a moving trade mark for some time, but the new process for applying for a motion, holographic or sound trade mark is now far simpler.

“This means there is a greater range of opportunities to protect a company’s branding, which can only be positive news for many brands.

“The uptake of these new rules may seem slow, but I anticipate that many more companies will follow Toshiba’s example to ensure their intellectual property and branding is secure.”

Andrew added that it would likely only be a matter of time before sound trade marks were registered and can think of several notable examples of well-known sounds, such as the recognisable Windows or Mac start-up sounds, that could benefit from trade mark registration.

“Sound has a powerful link to memory. Its why you may not be able to remember your PIN, but you can always remember an annoying jingle,” said Andrew.

“The emotive power of sound is significant and can be as important to brand recognition as a logo. I suspect, therefore, that trade marks related to sound could take off in future.”