Trade mark protection
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 for 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 or domain name registration…
While both of these are great, neither of these types of name registrations stops third parties from using your name and brand with their own goods and services.
Additionally, if a third party has already trademarked the name (or something substantially identical or deceptively similar to it) then your use of the name could infringe their trade mark.
Unfortunately, the fact that you have registered the name as a business name and/or domain name won’t help. The best way to stake our your territory, protect your brand and prevent competitors from coming close is with the protection of a registered trade mark.
I’ve come up with a trade mark – what should I do 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.