ENTREPRENEURS are being warned to make sure they do not infringe other people’s trademarks with their business start-ups.

Commercial solicitor Mark Howell of Dorset firm Coles Miller is urging people to carry out proper trademark research before investing large sums in new businesses.

Investment in UK businesses has increased for five consecutive quarters for the first time since 1998.

But Mr Howell fears some entrepreneurs can get caught up in the excitement of starting a new venture without first checking whether their name has already been registered.

He said: “They commission stationery and signage without first registering a trademark.

“They risk potentially having to change the name of the business with all the cost that entails.

“As bars, restaurants and high street shops depend heavily on branding to attract customers, they are particularly vulnerable. You have a street frontage that thousands of people see.

“Many small business owners do not go through proper checks.

“They often get carried away with enthusiasm and tend to focus on immediate practicalities rather than strategic issues.”

“Registering a trademark through the legal channels gives businesses the security of owning their own brands and deters competitors from copying it.

“It also makes legal action easier if infringement happens.

“To sue a competitor successfully for ‘passing off’, a litigant must establish three key points: n that they have established rights in the mark via trading n that members of the public have been confused by the competing mark n that actual harm has been done by the trademark infringement.