A trademark represents the quality of your brand, reputation and goodwill. Any business that is providing goods and services should register a trademark as it will protect their brand from competitors. Protecting your business ideas and intellectual property means no-one else can take your slice of the pie. Meaning your target market know your business brand and identify your business as trustworthy. A trademark is a business asset and holds value; if you sell your business then the trademark value is taken into account in the sale. In fact, a trademark is one of the most valuable assets of any business.
The best way to run a successful business is to be instantly recognisable to your market when they are looking for your goods or services. A trademark is an identifier of where goods and services come from. Typically trademarks are logos or phrases but they can also be sounds (think of the Windows startup tune). Whether you have an established business or starting a business register your trademark for protection.
Does Registering a Domain Name Protect my Business?
A common mistake new businesses and startups make is to overlook registering a trademark. Often they register a domain name and mistakenly believe this means no other entity can use the same name. But registering a domain name holds no trademark protection. In fact, if another business register a trademark in the same name as your domain then they have protection, not you. And they can demand you take down your site. Domain names and trademarks are not connected at all. Law protects the registered trademark, not the registered domain. Any new business needs to take this into account at the setup stage of the company.
Registering a trademark is not a cost to put off until it needs protection from competitors, by then it could be too late. The cost could even be less or similar to the cost of buying a domain name. The investment must be put into brand protection and reputation. Registering a trademark is the only way to guarantee this.
Can Overseas Companies Use my Trademark?
If your business is looking to grow to international markets then trademark protection becomes very important. This is because international filing bodies take into account the Australian registration date of your trademark. If an international competitor is trying to target your consumer base they cannot use your trademark if you have registered it and applied for international registration. As long as you got in before them. They can register a similar trademark that confuses your consumers into believing they are buying the goods and services from your brand. And you will not be protected from this if you have not registered a trademark.
The costs of not protecting your trademark can be more than losing potential profits. If another company registers a trademark similar or exact to your brand identifier you have no legal right unless you have registered your trademark. The cost will impact removing your trademark from promotional material, a new website rebrand and packaging. This cost could be enormous. In addition, you may also be liable for using someone else’s registered trademark.
Does Copyright Mean Same as a Trademark?
Copyright is not the same as a trademark, they protect a different type of intellectual property right. Copyright protects artistic work, not a brand. For example, a logo design can have copyright meaning no-one else can use the exact logo. But if they have designed a similar logo without reference to your material, as in they have come up with an original work, even if it is like your logo, copyright does not stop them from using it. Whereas if you have a trademark, then they cannot use the logo, even if they designed it without knowledge of your logo. Because a trademark protects rights residing in your brand.
What is a Trademark?
As stated earlier a trademark is the identifier of your brand and can include a name, design, images, sound, slogan, smell, colour and shape. A trademark is a marketing tool and asset of your business. An asset in the way of the monetary value of your business brand but also an asset in building and maintaining your brand and business. Make sure your business is protected by registering a trademark with IP Australia.
A trademark represents your business and helps it to stand out in a competitive field. Branding is a key tool in making your business recognisable to consumers, a trademark gives your business an identity for consumers to recognise. The brand association for consumers gives your business a way to set itself apart. You can convey your business message; quality goods and/or services, trustworthy, reliable, value, whatever your business is aiming for, the brand is how this is identified to consumers. If you do not register your trademark none of this association or brand identity is protected. It is an intangible asset, your brand value, but the only way you protect its value is by registering a trademark with IP Australia.
Stop any other competitors from moving in on your target market and using your brands ‘good faith’ as their own. If you do not have a trademark you cannot legally stop them.
The Benefits of Registering a Trademark
Once a trademark is registered it gives the business the right to use, license and sell your trademark. No one else in Australia has any legal right to use your trademark commercially. And the protection lasts for ten years, renewable every ten years.
The benefit of registering a trademark is providing your business with a marketing tool in;
- Brand recognition
- Brand association
- Brand identity
- Brand value
Legally a trademark protects your business from;
- Competitor misuse
- Competitor copying
- Infringement copyright
- Being liable for using a similar trademark
- Being able to enforce your rights
Protect your most valuable intangible business asset – your brand. And this can only be done with a registered trademark.