Trade marks to match creativity of digital economy

23rd August 2019

There is a big difference between a brand and a logo. The differences are argued over in countless creative design studios, but in an increasingly competitive age a recognisable logo or trade mark reflective of a brand’s personalities remains critical to success.

And now thanks to Toshiba, trade marks are set to become increasingly innovative in the digital age as organisations explore imaginative ways of reflecting their distinctive brand personalities using creative intellectual property.

The global technology giant is the first to have its distinctive multimedia ‘motion’ mark (a type of kinetic trade mark), registered under changes to UK trade mark law, which came into effect in January this year.

In the past it was possible for so-called motion marks to be registered, but they had to be illustrated graphically; drawn and static. But under the new system, moving, hologram or sound trade marks can be submitted using a multimedia file, without the previously required graphical representation.

UK Intellectual Property Day

To make the point even clearer, this first motion mark was registered in the UK by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) on 26 June – UK Intellectual Property Day, when the contribution made by IP to the UK economy is celebrated.

Almost impossible to represent in static graphics, the motion mark represents the iconic red Toshiba word logo, amongst folding and unfolding coloured triangles, designed to evoke thoughts of the classic Japanese art of origami – technology and tradition in harmony.

Given the role Toshiba continues to play in advancing technology, it is perhaps no surprise that it should be at the cutting edge of trade mark creativity.

Another technology giant, Google, registered the UK’s first hologram trade mark under the updated UK trade mark law, but we await the first sound mark to be registered under the new system.

I doubt we will have long to wait given the significance and uniqueness of certain sounds, like the Windows start-up sound.

Trade marks registered in the UK have come a long way since brewer Bass & Co. registered its now famous distinctive red triangle logo way back in 1876, which is still in use today. While it is likely we will see a new wave of trade mark creativity, timeless classics will continue to dominate.

Europe a force for change

Progressive IP protection in the UK has helped UK businesses compete on the world stage, thanks in part to a desire to accept that change can be good.

Ironically given the timing, it is our membership of the European Union that has resulted in a significant number of changes to our trade mark laws in recent years, which have allowed atypical aspects of a brand, like colour, shape, smell, hologram or sound to be protected.

Whatever characteristic of a brand requires protection, its key purpose remains the same; to represent quality, reputation and value in the minds of prospective customers. And securing that value with intellectual property is essential for businesses hoping to stand out in a crowded market place.

Our trade mark law continues to change and better reflect the creativity in the world and the new ways businesses wish to project their brand personalities.

If you would like further advice on protecting the intellectual property within your business, whether it’s a motion mark or something more traditional, please get in touch today and we will make it happen. Call Martin de Ridder on 01543 431186 or email him at