Cheerful tunes blare out of the doorways of every store, a multi coloured array of lights fill the skyline, the image of a large jolly man with a big bushy white beard appears in random places and smells of cinnamon and nutmeg invoke a feeling of warmth and nostalgia – these are the myriad signs, recognised by everyone, which tell us that the Christmas Season is here.  Wouldn’t we all love to have a brand whose signs had such universal recognition?

When we consider the signs which serve to identify our brands, i.e. our trade marks, we often just think of a word or logo, but, just as with Christmas, there are so many other signs which can serve in trade to identify our goods and services.

A trade mark can be a word and logo but it could also be a colour scheme, a movement, a jingle, sound or a combination of all of the above.

For example, Apple for electronic devices and Cola Cola for beverages are instantly recognisable as are the logos for fast food and for fuels.  The colour orange has become synonymous with both Easyjet for airlines and Orange for telecommunications services and the combination of the colours yellow and black identify the power tools of The Black & Decker Corporation.  The sound of the roar of a lion is used to symbolise MGM films and who among us does not recognise the Intel inside bong.  The action of a pat on the bottom has been used to distinguish Asda supermarkets, and the gesture of a man raising and lowering a bowler hat identified the financial services of Bradford and Bingley.

If consumers recognise your goods and services by reference to any sign, it is a trade mark.  A trade mark can be among a business’ most valuable property and, just as you would protect a piece of valuable physical property, these intangible rights should be protected through registration.

For more information on how to protect your trade marks, or to discuss any other matter relating to Intellectual Property, please contact us at or

Author: Cherrie Stewart