Brand guidelines

Trademark management

The Brand Team manage the registration of trademarks (or in this case the registration of logos) globally for the organisation, to ensure that our brand is protected and the associated risk of not registering our logo is minimised across the network.

All applications are processed through our trademark attorneys Wildbore and Gibbons and the Brand Team manages all communications with them.

Amongst other factors there are resource and cost implications to making a trademark registration application, so we don’t register the British Council logo or any product or programme logos everywhere. The risk of not registering the logo in that particular country needs to be evaluated before a decision is made, as to whether we will file an application.

Priority is given to registering the British Council logo. We don’t generally recommend registering the words ‘British Council’, as the words on their own are not distinctive enough to be approved for registration.

Project, programme and product names will only be registered if there is considered a real risk in market and the product has longevity.

If you have any queries regarding trademark licensing or are considering registering a trademark, please contact the Brand Team who will liaise with our trademark attorneys Wildbore & Gibbons. All trademark registrations must be applied for through Wildbore & Gibbons and not through a local trademark agent or law firm.

Frequently asked questions

Where is the British Council logo currently registered?

We have compiled an overview document that details what trademarks we have registered and where across the network, including the British Council logo. The spreadsheet includes a number of worksheets which include information on the classes that our various trademarks are classified under and renewal dates for these registrations.

If you have any queries or know of any registered trademarks that are not included in this document please contact the Brand Team with the details.

What does it cost and who pays for it?
Costs are generally covered by the country or programme who wish to file the application.  Costs vary by country (from a few hundred pounds to many thousands of pounds) and can change during the registration process, particularly if objections are raised to the registration by other parties.

How long does it take?
Once the application is filed, it usually takes 10 to 18 months for the application to mature to a registration. However, the filing date is the most important date, for if the mark is registered, protection dates back to the filing date.

How long does it last?
10 years and can be renewed for a further 10 years.

What classes do we register our mark in?
This varies according to what we are registering and where, but it generally is one or more of classes 16, 35, 41 and 42.

What do these classes stand for?
These definitions do vary according to the registration, but are generally defined as follows:

Class 16
Books; printed publications; calendars; diaries; posters; pens; pencils

Class 35
Services for the promotion of educational opportunities and cultural relations.

Class 41
Services for the development of educational opportunities and cultural relations; arranging conferences relating to education, the arts, science and sports; arranging exhibitions (and competitions) relating to education, the arts, science and sports; library services; theatre productions; organisation of educational exchange schemes; awarding of scholarships; information services relating to education, the arts and sports; advisory services relating to education, the arts and sports.

Class 42
Information and advisory services relating to science.

Can we register the word ‘British Council’ to avoid issues with search engines, such as Google?
In some countries this is possible, but not all.  In many countries the plain words would be regarded as merely descriptive and thus not registrable without evidence of acquired distinctiveness through use.  The best way to avoid this is to use/display the logo as much as possible, so there is an automatic association with our logo (which is much easier to register) whenever the British Council is mentioned.  This is a very new area of the law, so it is yet to become established, but the prevailing interpretation of the law is the use of the British Council as an Ad word by a third party will be an infringement of the trademark unless the average consumer can tell that the relevant services are not in fact provided by the trademark owner and the search engine provider, such as Google, itself may also be liable in such cases, depending on the country where the infringement occurs.