Trade marks refer to a sign, such as a logo, symbol, phrase or a combination of thereof that distinguishes your goods or services from competitors. A trade mark is an intellectual property right that helps create brand recognition and is, therefore, a valuable asset for businesses.
Understanding the laws pertaining to trade marks is crucial to ensure your brands are adequately protected. In this post, we debunk some common myths associated with trade marks. Take a look.
Many business owners believe that registering your business name is the same as registering a trade mark, which is false. Your registered business name is used by the government for tax and other administrative purposes but does not give you the exclusive rights to using the name as a trade mark.
The only way to get exclusive proprietary rights to a name is by registering a trade mark.
Once you successfully register a trade mark, you own it for ten years from the filing date. However, you can't just register a trade mark and do nothing with it. Otherwise, you risk losing it. Your trade mark can be removed from the Register if it hasn’t been used during the non-use removal period, which is a three year period.
Anyone can submit an application to IP Australia to get your trade mark removed from the Register for non-use. You can defend the non-use removal application by providing evidence of use.
Don’t make the mistake of misunderstanding the purpose of a trade mark. A trade mark registration will not stop other traders using the mark altogether. A trade mark functions as a sign to indicate a source of origin for goods and services. Other traders can use the mark in certain ways without infringing the trade mark.
If a competitor has somehow obtained acceptance of a trade mark application for a mark which is the same or significantly similar to yours and for identical or similar goods or services, then it’s your responsibility to raise an objection to registration of that trade mark (known as an opposition). The same applies to infringement. You must monitor the marketplace for infringement.
IP Australia doesn’t police your trade marks or inform you regarding any potential conflicts.
It is good business practice to search the Trade Mark Register every few months to ensure no other traders are trying to register a mark similar to yours for similar goods and services.
The essential purpose of trade marks is branding your goods and services and creating brand recognition. But a trade mark does not protect inventions and a trade mark cannot be used to protect your invention. To protect an invention, you need to obtain a patent. Contact a patent attorney in Australia, to secure the exclusive rights to manufacture, market, sell and profit from your original invention with a patent in Australia.
There is no such thing as a worldwide trade mark. If you have registered a trade mark in Australia, you cannot expect it to be enforceable in Italy. If you want to expand your business to other countries, you would have to register the trade mark in each country. Always remember to protect your trade mark in countries in which you manufacture. It would be unfortunate to have to abandon a manufacturing country on the basis of omitting to register the trade mark in that country.
Some of the myths we see are:
Registering Your Business Name is the Same as Registering a Trade Mark
You Own the Trade Mark Whether You Use It Or Not
The Main Purpose of a Trade Mark is Stopping Others From Using It
IP Australia Will Inform You of Any Conflicts
Getting a Trade Mark Will Protect Your Invention
Trade Marks Promise Worldwide Protection
The Bottom Line
Obtaining a trade mark is a process that will take at least six months. Whether you are planning on registering a trade mark or claim infringement, consult an experienced trade mark attorney in Brisbane.