Virtually every company you can think of has at least one registered trade mark.
So what exactly is a trade mark, and why is it so important to ensure yours is registered?
What is a trade mark?
A trade mark is any sign that helps customers identify where certain goods and services come from. Think of Nike’s iconic swoosh. One glimpse and you know exactly which company those runners come from, and maybe even what it be might be like to wear them. A well-protected trade mark can instantly communicate to consumers a company’s reputation, products and services.
What can I protect as a trade mark?
Trade marks are usually words (QANTAS), logos (the QANTAS kangaroo) and slogans (Just Do It). However, anything that helps your customers identify your company and brand can be protected as a registered trade mark. For example, the Windows boot up sound and the lion’s roar of MGM are both registered as sound trade marks because they signify to people where the goods and services come from. After all, a trade mark is exactly what the name suggests – it is a mark of trade.
What makes a good trade mark?
Great trade marks don’t describe the goods and services they’re used with. Remember that amazing car company called Cars? Exactly.
When choosing your trade mark, avoid being generic, avoid being descriptive, and definitely avoid deriving “inspiration” from existing trade marks. Pick something your competitors aren’t likely to think of themselves.
But I already have a business name and domain name…
I’ve decided on my trade mark – what’s next?
Jump online and check that your trade mark (or something like it) isn’t already being used for the same or similar goods and services. The last thing you want is to infringe the registered trade mark rights of someone else, forcing you to re-brand. This can be especially painful if you’ve already grown your customer base and brand’s reputation.
Our trade marks attorneys can:
- Check if your trade mark might infringe someone else’s
- Assess whether your trade mark can be registered
- Prepare and file your trade mark application, ensuring the scope of goods and services reflects your current and future business plans
- Respond to objections raised by the Australian Trade Marks Office
- Help you protect your trade mark overseas