Jane Lambert
27 May 2010

A “brand” defines the relationship between a supplier and its customers. That includes the name by which the supplier is known and the logo by which its goods or services are recognized.

However, there is a great deal more to a brand than that. A brand can comprise distinctive features of the goods themselves, such as the Burberry check or the Rolls Royce grille. It can include a reputation for reliability or service acquired through careful after sales service. Where commodities of a particular region have a reputation for excellence – such as sparkling wine from the Champagne region or ham from Parma – the brand can be the name of the region.

The law protects brands in a variety of ways.

  • Signs used in trade to distinguish one supplier’s goods and services from those of other traders may be registered as trade marks.
  • The goodwill accruing to a sign is protected by the law of passing off, a right of action that prevents a supplier from marketing his or her goods or services by stating or giving the impression that they are those of another supplier.
  • The geographical indications of that product are protected by collective or certification trade marks, the law of passing off and ad hoc legislation.
  • A logo may be a copyright work and registered as a registered design or a registered Community design.
  • Databases of customers, their requirements and customer service calls which are important for generating goodwill are protected by the law of confidence and database rights.