In this article, Lisa Win, from Win Trademarks, talks about how to protect your brand. It’s important to understand how a trade mark works so you can make an informed decision about whether or not you get a trade mark for your business.
How does a trade mark protect your business?
Most business owners I talk to have “get a trade mark” somewhere on their to-do list. They know that a trade mark promises to provide some level of legal protection for their business. But most people don’t know exactly what that legal protection is. Getting a trade mark can be an expensive undertaking, so before you take the plunge it’s a good idea to know exactly what protection you’ll get.
Registering your business name
When you start your business you’re required to register your business name with ASIC. While the national registration database may prevent other people from registering the same business name, it does not prevent other businesses from using your business name in another capacity, such as, as a product name, service name or tag line within their own business. So registering your business name does not give you exclusive rights to use that name and does nothing to protect you from other businesses who might want to use your business name in another way. That’s why we have a system for registering trade marks.
What is a trade mark?
A trade mark is defined 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 by any other person”. This definition is very important and if your trade mark does not meet the requirements then you won’t be able to get it registered. For a more detailed discussion on this topic take a look at my article: What is a Trade Mark?
You probably have a number of potential trade marks in your business: your business name, tag line, logo, product shape or colour, etc. If you want to protect every one of your trade marks then you’ll need to get each of them registered but most businesses make a decision to register the one or two trade marks that are most important to their business.
What protection does a registered trade mark provide?
As the registered owner of a trade mark you have the exclusive right (with some limitations) to use your trade mark as part of your brand for the goods and/or services you have specified on your registration. This means that another business cannot use your trade mark as part of their brand if they’re selling goods or services that are similar to yours.
Having a registered trade mark also allows you to take action against people who have used their trade mark without authorisation.
And finally, a registered trade mark is a form of personal property (like a car) that can be bought or sold. This means that a registered trade mark is an asset of your business that has a value. For many businesses their registered trade marks can be the most valuable assets of the business.
Trade mark registration provides you with legal rights in relation to your brand that you would not have otherwise. But keep in mind that those rights are limited by the details set out in your trade mark application so it’s important to get this step right if you want the best protection possible.
What’s involved in getting a trade mark?
One of the things that holds many people back from getting their trade mark registered is not understanding how the trade marking process works. For example, most people don’t realise that it takes a minimum of seven and a half months to get your trade mark registered. And that’s if the process goes smoothly! Here’s a short guide which sets out what’s involved in getting your trade mark registered. Take a look, it walks you through the process and sets out what happens each step of the way.
You may have seen Lisa’s name mentioned in the Natural Skincare Makers Australia group – she comes highly recommended and has worked with a number of natural skincare brands.
Lisa helps clients by advising whether they can or should trade mark their business name or logo, drafting trade mark specifications to give the best protection possible and managing the trade marking process with IP Australia.
Although you can also apply for a trade mark yourself, I recommend using a Trade Marks Attorney like Lisa to save you hours of research and stress.
For trade mark advice or to find out more about the process and costs involved, you can schedule a FREE 15 minute consultation with Lisa.