A common misconception is that trademarks have no real application for small, everyday businesses. However, a trademark can be one of your business’ most valuable assets, boosting brand identity and help to differentiate your products and services.
If your business is using a logo or phrase to identify its goods or services, you should take steps to prevent your competitors from using that logo or phrase in the same way. Your trademark is your business’ seal of quality. It represents the reputation of your business, and the misappropriation of that trademark could have devastating effects on the goodwill of your business. Consumers use that trademark to identify products with the expectation that all products bearing that mark will be of consistent quality. If a competitor begins using your trademark on inferior products and a consumer buys the inferior product bearing the same trademark, the consumer may assume that all products bearing that trademark have that inferior quality. By registering your trademark, you secure the right to exclusively use the logo or phrase and remove the possibility that your competitors will try to benefit by copying your business. Registration also protects your right to sue another company that uses your trademark to pass off as your business.
In order to qualify for protection, a trademark normally needs to be registered with IP Australia, the government organisation which regulates most intellectual property in Australia. If the trademark meets the statutory definition of a “mark”, then it is eligible for registration. However, eligibility does not guarantee registration. A trademark cannot be too similar to other trademarks in the same class. A trademark which is misleading or deceptive will also be prevented from registration. Most importantly, a trademark also needs to have distinctiveness. Distinctiveness is the unique character of the trademark which differentiates it from a description of the goods or service.
Registration of your mark as a trademark gives you the sole right to use that mark in relation to your class of goods or services. There are 45 different classes of trademarks, broken down into categories of goods and services. It is important that your trademark is registered in the correct class(es) to ensure the greatest protection.
Stone Group Lawyers can assist you to protect your business’ intellectual property rights and guide you through the registration process.