Stanmore IP is a small, but mighty, trade mark practice who were recently given the Best in Trademark Protection award. Based in the UK, they specialise in helping businesses to select and protect their trade marks in the UK, the EU and globally via a strong network of trusted and hand-picked advisors. Their clients are varied, which for Stanmore IP’s founder, Clare Mullarkey is a huge joy of the job. We interviewed her to discover more.

Alongside that work, Stanmore IP Limited also helps businesses dealing with trade mark disputes, domain name issues, renewals and assignments.

Having had experience of working within a global FMCG company, a leading law firm and a couple of boutique IP firms, Stanmore IP’s founder, Clare Mullarkey is perfectly placed to advise businesses from all sectors and of all shapes and sizes. She explains more about the firm’s clients and how they are assisting them in protecting their trade marks.

“Since establishing the firm in 2015, our clients have ranged from individuals to companies with global reach. The common denominator is the desire to have a friendly, responsive and commercially-minded advisor in their corner. Being a small firm our fees are fair and very competitive. We take pride in offering transparent pricing, often on a fixed fee basis, which has been well received by our clients.

“When it comes to selecting, and protecting a client’s trade marks, we take the time to understand the businesses we are working with, and the desired aims. We provide commercially-minded advice taking account of our client’s current and future business plans. We understand that trade marks are an essential part of every business, it’s how you attract customers and keep them coming back for more, it’s also how you are recommended to new customers and recognised for the work you do. It’s so important to use your trade mark to stand out from the crowd and be remembered – selecting a great trade mark in the first place, and then registering it, goes a long way to helping with that key aim.

“When selecting your trade mark in the first place, whether you do that in house or use an agency to help, you need to check that you’re not accidentally infringing someone else’s rights. A trade mark search is a great tool to help with that and can assist in assessing potential risk. Our search reports are succinct and come with commercial advice and suggestions for overcoming any potential issues, we are proud to give you advice and an opinion rather than simply a report of issues for you to assess without guidance. “

Clare then underlines that with or without a trade mark search, once you have selected your trade mark, it has a few variations. She goes on to explain this point in more detail.

“There’s the words themselves, the font or stylisation you use to present those words, perhaps there’s a logo to accompany the words, perhaps it’s a logo on its own, are the colours you use important to the overall appearance and how memorable the trade mark is? Maybe there’s a tagline or slogan as well.

“These elements combine to produce your brand. Identifying which one(s) should also be protected can be confusing. We help tease the elements out and advise you about what elements can be protected, and what the benefits are of protecting certain combinations. We work with you to produce a plan for protection that suits your business plans and budget.

“We then review your current business offerings, your future and your ‘Million Dollar Idea’ plans. Taking all that information (confidentially, of course), we put together a list of the items you might want to protect with your trade mark application. A well-crafted list of goods and services is essential in a trade mark application and helps you to make sure that you get maximum ‘bang for your buck’ when it comes to filing the application. Always working with you and being mindful of your individual business plans.

“And then we file the application on your behalf if it’s a UK or EU trade mark application. If it’s an overseas application, we might file it for you depending on the registration system we use, or we might instruct one of our trusted overseas advisors to do it. How we select which system to use will always be with your full consultation and agreement. The application is processed at the local Registry, any issues are dealt with and communicated to you, the application is published in case third parties have objections, and if they don’t, the mark is registered. “

Sometimes, when disputes arise, it’s the nature of doing business in all sectors Clare adds, before adding her thoughts on how the firm is helping to protect trade marks all over the world.

“If disputes arise, we work with you to communicate clearly and fairly with the other side, we look for practical solutions and help navigate the waters to hopefully find a good resolution for everyone involved.

“We also help protect trademarks across the world, helping our clients to reach new markets with their products and services. Often businesses get caught up in the whirlwind of export rules, shipping costs, distribution agreements and so on, but it is essential to consider your trade mark position when entering new markets.

“Does your trade mark have a meaning in a local language that could cause issues for your reputation for example? Has your local distributor applied to register your trade mark on your behalf in that country – if so, what arrangements do you have in place for retaining the rights to it if the relationship breaks down, or if you want to include another distributor?”

Clare stresses that everything the firm does is bespoke for each client, including the business sector they operate in, the aims and plans they have for their own business as well as the personality of the client. With these things considered, a tailormade approach is the route taken, a point Clare is keen to expand in further detail.

“We don’t believe in ‘one size fits all’ and we don’t favour one client over another. Our biggest concern is getting the right solution for each client, no matter what. It’s the beauty of fixed fees as it means that no client is ever concerned about how long we’ve been on the phone, or how many questions they’ve asked. The clock isn’t ticking.

“In line with being bespoke for our clients, the staff involved are bespoke too. We don’t have traditional employees, but a whole army of wonderful freelance advisors and helpers who make up the team. It’s so important to have people to work with that you trust and who get the job done.

“We’re extremely lucky to have such a good network of people to call upon to help with our client’s needs and find that we are often referring clients to one another, advisors to existing clients, and receiving referrals from our advisors as well as existing clients. There’s such a good community of small businesses and contacts, and the world is so small thanks to social media and technology, that we consider ourselves to have a huge team of people!”

Clare concludes on a note of optimism about Stanmore IP Limited being awarded as the Best in Trademark Protection.
“Being selected as the Best in Trademark Protection is a real honour for Stanmore IP, having only started 18 months prior to receiving the award, it was a real boost to be recognised for the hard work and effort put in so far. We’re very pleased to have received such an accolade from such a respected outlet.”