Protecting your brand equity with trade marking in Australia

We often hear about the importance of building a brand or brand equity. Business brand equity is a real thing, though somewhat difficult to quantify sometimes unless you're Donald Trump. As a business owner you invest in logos, customer service, guarantees and product quality to build your brand equity over time.

After you have built a recognisable brand what is stopping another usurper from feeding off or steeling your brand equity for their own gain? In Australia you have a few options to protect your brand equity; Business name, Trademark and registered trademark (Lahser, 2014).

The first place to start is Business Name. A business name is a legal means to identify your business (obviously). However, registering your business name, trading name does not give you automatic full rights over that name. It also has no protection over your logo. This is where trademarking your business name and logo/s comes into play.

Here are the differences in Australia for Business name and Trade mark.

Business Name:

  • Is the name your business trades under
  • It is connected to your ABN
  • A business name is national so you only need to register once regardless of whether you operate in multiple states.
  • You cannot register a business name that is identical or to similar to a business name registered to another Australian business or company. (This doesn't seem to be to strongly enforced looking at the register)

    Trade mark:

  • Trade mark legally protects your name and logos and stops others from trading with it within Australia
  • A trade mark gives you exclusive use with Australia
  • Having a trade mark in Australia will make it easier for you to establish other trade marks in other countries.
  • Your first trade mark registration will protect you for 10 years (renewable).
  • Your trade mark is sellable (Licencing or straight sale).
  • You can register ® or have an unregistered trademark (TM) symbol which puts others on notice that you intend to register. TM can be enforcable under common law and gives you a stronger position when subsequently applying for registration.

    (Note: More detailed information available here)

    When using a trade mark for your brand you can be register and use the ® or unregistered and use the (TM) symbol. Both offer protection for your brand equity. Why spend your sweat to build your brand to have it swooped out from under you protect yourself before it is to late.

    Disclaimer: This is not legal advise, merely information only. We do not claim to know the law or make any claims about the accuracy of this advise in this blog. Any action you take is of your own accord and we recommend consulting with a qualified trademark specialist before taking any action.

    Bibliography:

    Lahser, A. P. (2014, March 11). Trademark symbol: How to (legally) use ® and ™. Retrieved March 9, 2016, from How Conceptual.com, http://howconceptual.com/tm-symbol/

    Australian Government, & Australian Government. (2015, October 29). Benefits of trade marks. Retrieved March 9, 2016, from Australian Government IP Australia, http://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/get-the-right-ip/trade-marks/trade-mark-basics/benefits-of-trade-marks/

    Australian Tax Office©, (2015, September 4). Ato. Retrieved March 9, 2016, from ATO, https://www.ato.gov.au

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