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The Manchester Bee and Intellectual Property

You may not be aware of this, but Manchester City Council actually holds various trade marks in connection with the ‘Manchester bee.’ This blog explores in brief, the benefits of trade mark protection.

Logos and symbols are everywhere we look, from the clothes we wear, to the food we eat. They convey information to consumers about the brand, quality and perceived popularity of products. Businesses spend millions harnessing the psychology of branding, building up their brands to connect with their consumers on a personal level, in the hope that it will develop their brand loyalty.  Protecting such brands through a trade mark is therefore fundamental to a business’s continued success.

The function of a trade mark is to indicate the origin of the goods or services, which provides an indication of the quality of the product associated with that supplier. Trade marks allow a business to build up their goodwill and grow its value, if the consumers see the logo or symbol as a badge of quality.

Benefits of Obtaining Trade Mark Protections

While it is true that some elements of branding can be automatically protected, without registration, through copyright law, the scope of the protection is far greater when registering a trade mark. When registered, a trade mark will be placed on the public database whereby anybody can see when the mark was registered, who the owner is and what classes of goods the mark relates to. The holder of the mark will also be issued with a certificate which can be shown to third parties evidencing the existence and ownership of the mark.

Consequently, registration makes it a lot easier for an individual/business to bring proceedings for infringement where others have used identical or similar marks, for the same or similar goods and services. In comparison, a business seeking to rely solely on their copyright protection would have a much more arduous task bringing a claim under the common law action of passing off, which requires them to prove the reputation of the mark. There is no such threshold with trade marks.

Perhaps the biggest benefit to a business in registering a trade mark is that it is a commercially exploitable piece of property in itself. They can be sold or licenced to others through a licensing agreement in order to raise further revenue.

An example of this the Manchester Bee. Owned by Manchester City Council, the various iterations of the bee can be seen all over the city. Through the use of licensing agreements, the Council have allowed the bee logo to feature on a wide range of different goods from suitcases to Nike trainers raising revenue while ensuring that the quality and distinctiveness of the mark is preserved.

Whether you need help in registering a trade mark, entering into a licensing agreement or protecting your trade mark from infringement Ralli have lawyers who can assist. Contact our helpful team on 0161 832 6131 in Manchester or 0207 535 0750 in London.

To learn more about Manchester City Council’s intellectual property rights over the bee image and to see the guidelines for licensees, visit their website here.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that this post sets out the general position under the general law. It should not be acted upon in any specific circumstances without taking specific legal advice as to those circumstances. Also, it should not be relied upon, acted upon or treated as a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances. If you do require specific advice please contact us for assistance.