Tech companies are acutely aware of the importance of keeping their brand style relevant and fresh.
Developments in the tech space are currently moving at a rapid pace. In addition to keeping up with product aesthetics that are currently speaking to consumers, technology brands must also consider when, and how, to rebrand in order to engage with current and potential customers, and to maintain their reputation as creative and innovative players in the tech field.
The recent Nokia rebrand is an example of this. We have seen a distinct movement in the brand’s identity, to reflect its change in focus to innovation and B2B tech rather than mobile phones.
Trade mark registrations for the new logo will of course be crucial to Nokia’s IP strategy. However, it is also important for brand owners that are rebranding to create new logos, or launching a new brand logo for the first time, to be aware of the important role that design registration in the UK and EU can play in maximising strategy for protecting brand style.
In the UK and EU, it is possible to register new designs, or designs that do not have the same overall impression of prior art designs, for the appearance of whole or part of a product.
Most brand owners will associate design registration with the protection of the appearance of a physical product, such as a mobile phone, or an item of furniture. However, the definition of “product” is extremely broad and design protection may also be secured in the UK and EU for logos if they are new, and do not have the same overall impression as earlier designs.
Therefore, the registration of logos as designs in the UK and EU is a powerful tool for maximising protection of brand style.
The scope of protection of trade mark registration is tied to the goods and services claimed in a registration, even in circumstances where reputation is relied upon, whereas a design registration has no such restriction.
As a result, a design registration for a logo in the UK and EU allows the proprietor to prevent use of the same logo, or a logo that has the same overall impression, on any goods or in relation to any services without the need to prove copying, likelihood of consumer confusion, or that there is a reputation associated with the logo subject of the design registration.
This is particularly important for logos that relate to well-known brands, where the scope for third parties to apply them to, or use them in relation to, a large range of goods and services outside the core space of interest to the brand owner.
Thus, brand owners can seek to maximise protection for logos by registering them as trade marks for their core goods and services, but also registering the logos as designs in order to broaden the scope of protection in circumstances where the logo is used in an entirely distinct space.
It is also possible to disclaim elements of a logo when you file a design application. For example, you may file a multiple application that claims the design of the logo as a whole, then additional versions with the text element disclaimed and the device element claimed and vice versa, thus broadening the scope of protection.
If you are developing new, distinctive, logos for your brands, or are rebranding existing logos, it is important to speak with an IP practitioner in order to implement a clearance and protection strategy that encompasses consideration of design registration in addition to trade mark registration.