Trade marks: 10 FAQs
A registered trade mark will safeguard your brand by providing you with exclusive legal rights... [it] offers the best protection for your business’ goods or services.
Let’s talk trade marks. They can be technical and complicated… But don’t have to be! We take the uncertainty out and put the simplicity into protecting your creative masterpiece by answering 10 of the most frequently asked questions.
FAQ 1: What is a trade mark?
- A trade mark is your identity. It’s your brand or another sign your business uses (or intends to use) to differentiate its unique goods or services from those of other traders.
FAQ 2: Why register a trade mark?
- A registered trade mark will safeguard your brand by providing you with exclusive legal rights.
- Registering a business name, company name or domain name does not in itself give you ownership of the name. If you rely on promoting your business name or company name, registering a trade mark will protect the identity of your goods or services and prevent others from imitating your brand.
- A registered trade mark can be one of your most valuable marketing assets and increase your business’ worth.
FAQ 3: What are the benefits of a registered trade mark?
- A registered trade mark will prevent other traders from using the same or similar branding to yours.
- A registered trade mark can be licensed or sold and is fundamental in any franchising strategy.
- A registered trade mark puts others on notice of your intellectual property rights and allows use of the ® symbol next to your brand.
FAQ 4: What trade marks can you register?
- A name, corporate logo, word, phrase, letter, number, picture, sound, symbol, scent, colour, shape, packaging characteristic, advertising jingle… Or a combination of these.
FAQ 5: What are trade mark classes and how do you choose one?
- Classes are categories of goods and services.
- A trade mark can be registered in one or more classes – there are 45 different classes to choose from!
- In choosing a class to register your trade mark, you should consider the categories carefully and ensure the class encompasses the goods and services you want to protect.
- Some of the factors you should consider in selecting a class include the goods and services your business offers, the nature of your business and what your business is known for.
FAQ 6: How do you use a registered trade mark and what happens if you don’t?
- You must use a trade mark actively in the course of trading, otherwise it can be removed on the basis of non-use.
- Someone else (often another applicant who’s application is being prevented by your registered trade mark) can apply to have your trade mark registration removed if you haven’t used it for 3 years… or if you didn’t have the intention of using your trade mark when filing your application.
FAQ 7: Can someone else use your registered trade mark?
- It’s against the law for someone else to use your registered trade mark without your permission… and you can take legal action if they do!
FAQ 8: What is the life span of a registered trade mark and can it be renewed?
- Once registered, a trade mark is protected Australia-wide for an initial period of 10 years from the date it is filed.
- You can renew your trade mark any time between 12 months prior to the renewal being due and up to 6 months after.
FAQ 9: Is a registered trade mark protected overseas?
- Registration of an Australian trade mark only provides protection domestically.
- For a trade mark to be protected overseas, it must be registered in the country you are seeking protection.
- If your business trades or is looking at expanding its operations overseas, often it is possible to rely on an Australian trade mark registration to register in other countries.
FAQ 10: Can your brand be protected without a registered trade mark?
- A registered trade mark offers the best protection for your business’ goods or services.
- In some circumstances, even if your trade mark isn’t registered your brand may still be protected under the common law action of passing off. If you want to know more about passing off, check out our article here.
If you would like to chat about protecting your brand, or if you have questions about your trade mark rights, get in touch with the Lawthentic team today.