Running a business can be stressful. Sometimes you don’t know what to think or where to turn for answers. Intellectual property protection may not seem like the most urgent problem, but it’s essential to your business. A simple trademark registration process can help protect your company and could prevent you incurring huge costs in court proceedings and similar.
So, whether you’ve been in business for a while, or putting your energy into a start-up, here’s are some do’s and don’t’s for trademark registration in Australia.
DO: Register Your Business Name and Your Business Mark as trademarks
When your business name is not protected by a registered trademark, you risk losing valuable business goodwill or being subject to the legal action of a competitor. trademark registration provides long-term protection for your brand and helps prevent imitators from misappropriating or copying your company’s name. Merely registering a business name does not protect the name involved.
DO: Conduct A Trademark Search Before You File
Before filing a trademark application, you should perform an online trademark search to see if others have already filed for or registered the same or confusingly similar mark. It will show you if someone else has the same mark or one that is confusingly like your own. This can help show whether your ongoing use of the name is likely to infringe, and, whether it is possible to register your own trademark.
IP Australia provides several search tools to help you look at Australian trademark databases. You can find user guides on their website, although they are limited in the amount of information they provide. Plus, it is best to hire a trademark professional for this kind of research.
DON’T: Use the R Symbol Until You Are Registered
The ® is a trademark symbol reserved for use with registered trademarks. If you use the ® symbol in connection with an unregistered trademark, you will be committing an offense under the trademarks Act 1995 as operates in Australia.
DO: Choose the Right trademark
Choosing a name for your business or products should be a carefully considered choice. The money you have devoted to developing and promoting your mark and the time you’ve spent circulating it is no guarantee that it will be accepted for registration. Regardless of how much you invest or how long you circulate, an examiner might still find grounds for the rejection of your application. That’s why investing time in choosing a ‘good’ trademark will pay off.
But what does that mean? A good trademark can be a distinguishing factor in the minds of your customers. Some of the more important things to consider when evaluating a mark are whether it is descriptive, generic, or suggestive, for example, but there are many more. A trademarks attorney or lawyer can assess what legal issues your mark is likely to raise and whether changes to the mark could overcome these problems.
DON’T: Forget to Register All Eligible Assets
You can register more than just your product or business name. A trademark is any sign you use to distinguish your product or service from another trader’s similar product. trademark law states that a trademark can be a name, a word, a symbol, or anything else that can distinguish the source of the goods or services of one trader from those of others. If you use a colour, shape, sound, or smell to differentiate your products/services, these elements may also be trademarks. Think out of the box and present anything you think may qualify as a USP to your trademark attorney for consideration.
DO: Register for International Protection
While registering a trademark in Australia is reasonably straightforward, you should also think about filing for protection in countries where your business is located or where you offer products and services. If you offer products or services under your trademark in multiple countries, you might consider filing an international application through the Madrid Protocol. There are approx. 100 countries available to choose from under the Madrid Protocol and where eligible this can be a simple and cost-effective way to achieve registration in other countries.
DON’T: Forget to Renew your trademark Registration
trademark registration in Australia is for ten years. You can renew yours indefinitely, every 10 years. trademark owners must also ensure that their registered trademark does not become vulnerable to removal for non-use. If the named owner does not use or properly control the use of the trademark for the goods/services, then a third party could seek removal of the trademark for non-use.
And finally, we recommend you ‘DO’ use a trademark attorney or IP lawyer. A trademark attorney can help you complete the required paperwork for your trademark application. You get peace of mind knowing that your application is filed the first time correctly and that you won’t experience unexpected delays in the registration service due to incorrect filing.