A Global and Local Outlook
Elgar Intellectual Property Law and Practice series
Edited by Irene Calboli and Jacques de Werra
Chapter 15: UK PERSPECTIVES ON TRADEMARK TRANSACTIONS: A LIBERAL APPROACH
Marks, signs and trade names have been an important part of commerce in the United Kingdom (UK) since the time of the Medieval guilds. The UK Trade Marks Register was established in 1876 and the first Registration on 1 January 1876 was The Bass Brewery’s famous red triangle logo, which is said to be the world’s first registered logo. This mark is still registered and in use today. Trademarks are often hugely valuable assets. A key part of that value is the ability of a proprietor to deal with its trademark and to transact freely. The legal system in the UK supports this ability to transact and provides significant freedom for trademark owners. Transactions relating to trademarks can, of course, take many different forms; a merchandising arrangement, a sponsorship deal, a co-branding collaboration, the sale of a brand, or a brand finance deal are all transactions with trademarks at their core. The role of the practitioner is to analyze the nature of any proposed transaction to establish whether it involves the transfer of a property right (an assignment); a permission to use (a license); the creation of a charge, mortgage, or other security (a security interest); or simply a contractual arrangement as to how a trademark proprietor will use its own mark (for example, under a trademark co-existence agreement). The practitioner will then seek to reflect relevant statutory provisions and, importantly, help to ensure appropriate clarity and control so as to preserve the value of the trademarks that are the subject of the transaction.
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