Your name may be your most valuable asset and marketing tool. Whether you provide professional services or goods consumers will identify a quality and image with your name. That is why it is critical you protect your name. The best way to protect your name is to register a trade mark.
WHAT IS A TRADE MARK?
A trade mark is a distinctive image which is used to identify and distinguish your goods or services from the goods or services of your competitors. A trade mark can be as simple as a word, a name, a signature, a number, a colour or image or a combination of these.
DO I NEED A TRADE MARK WHEN I ALREADY HAVE A REGISTERED BUSINESS NAME OR COMPANY NAME?
Most people do not realize that business and company name registrations do not give the business owner any legal rights in the registered name nor does registration of a business or company name give a person the exclusive right to the use of that name. Also business and company names are not checked against the Australian Trade Marks Register. This means you can have a situation where the business or company name you registered is similar or even identical to an existing registered trade mark. In these circumstances a business owner may find themselves in a position where their name will have to be changed because the registered owner of a trade mark alleges that you are infringing their registered trade mark.
However it is important to be aware that just because you have not registered your name as a trade mark that does not mean you wont have any rights in that name if some one else starts using it, or a similar name.
You will have the legal right to prevent someone “passing off” and also there is the right to stop misleading and deceptive conduct.
The problem is that when you are protecting an unregistered trade mark you will need to build up extensive evidence to prove to a court that, because of your reputation in the marketplace there is a likelihood of deception and confusion. If you have only recently started business, or if your goods or services are not widely known, it can often be very complex and costly to succeed in court. Even if you have been operating for some time proving that you do have a reputation is still a costly exercise.
For this reason the best way to protect your name is to register it as a Trade Mark.
In short registration gives notice to everyone that you own your trade mark and it is not available.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO REGISTER A TRADE MARK?
It only costs about $900 to register a trade mark which when you think about it is about the same as it costs to insure a car.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO REGISTER A TRADE MARK?
Trade Mark applications are examined in order of filing. The period of time taken between filing and examination of applications can vary due to significant fluctuations in the number of applications lodged at any given time. Typically it takes 3 – 6 months for an application to be examined and accepted. If your trade mark is accepted the details of the application will be advertised in the Official Journal of Trade Marks for 3 months. During that time people may oppose registration of your trade mark. If no opposition is filed against your application, or if an opposition is unsuccessful, your trade mark will be registered when the registration fee is paid.
Once you have registered the registration is valid for 10 years.
If you would like to know more about registering a trade mark please contact either Paul Norris or Andrew Lord.