Your clients or customers regularly identify or associate your business with its branding, including its business name, logo or slogan.
Therefore, whether you are starting a new business or running an established business, it is important that you protect your brand by registering a trade mark.
What is a trade mark?
In Australia, the Trade Marks Act 1995 (Cth) defines a trade mark as “a sign used, or intended to be used, to distinguish goods or services dealt with or provided in the course of trade by a person from goods or services so dealt with or provided by any other person”.
A trade mark can be a letter, word(s), number, phrase, symbol, logo, image, sound, movement, shape or scent used to represent the business, its products or services.
Whilst unregistered trade marks exist, it is much more difficult to protect your intellectual property if you are relying on an unregistered mark rather than a registered one.
Why should you register a trade mark?
By registering a trade mark, you:
- have exclusive rights to use, licence and sell the mark within Australia;
- notify any party who searches the IP Australia register that your trade mark is registered and that you own it which discourages infringement of your mark;
- have the right to oppose the registration of a mark which is identical or very similar to your trade mark;
- own a valuable asset which can form part of any sale of your business.
What if you do not register a trade mark?
If you do not register a trade mark, you risk:
- infringing on another party’s registered trade mark.
- another party registering and/or using the same or a similar mark in your business’ industry or activity.
- decreasing the value of your business’ intellectual property.
How do you apply for a trade mark?
You can apply for a trade mark via the IP Australia website - https://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/ .
This application can be complex. It is important that an applicant identifies the correct class or classes of goods and/or services to which the business’ trade mark relates.
We strongly recommend that you seek the assistance of a lawyer or qualified trade mark attorney in relation to an application for registration of a trade mark. If you would like to speak to a lawyer in our commercial team about a making a trade mark application or any other intellectual property matter, we would be more than happy to assist. Please do not hesitate to contact us on (03) 9822 8588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Insight written by George Hanger