Should you trademark your business name?
It is granted that everyone’s business is unique. Therefore, it is no surprise that everyone wants their business to stand out from its competitors and be identifiable to their perspective audience. Perhaps the best way of achieving this is registering a trademark on a business name or logo, giving you the sole right to use, license or sell under that business name. Thus, ensuring your business identity doesn’t get copied or stolen by someone else.
What is a trademark? What are the benefits of a trademark?
A trademark is the protection of certain names, symbols, devices, or words that will be used in connection with a business’ goods or services. The purpose of a trademark is to allow companies and individuals to indicate the source of their goods or services and to distinguish them from others in the industry.
There are a few important criteria that sets out the eligibility to register a trademark, these include:
- you must apply as an individual business owner and not under your business name;
- you must be an individual, company, incorporated association or a combination of these; and
- you must use, or plan to use the trademark.
How do I apply for a trademark?
- First, choose your “mark”.
This may be your business name and/or your logo. Once you have decided your “mark” you must then figure out if you can actually register it and also consider whether your mark is strong and individual enough to be enforceable.
- Describe your goods and/or services.
You must also be able to describe the exact goods or services that you provide under the trade marked name, and whether you have actually been providing those goods or services already or whether you intend to in the future.
- Figure out if your business name or logo has already been trade marked by someone else.
The IP Australia’s Australian Trade Marks Search System offers an online database to make sure the trade mark you want to use is available. Using another person’s trademark (whether it is registered or not) as your own is against the law.
- Prepare and submit your application.
Once you have done all of these steps, you are ready to prepare and submit your application to IP Australia. IP Australia usually take three to four months to examine your trademark application once it has been submitted.
If your trade mark is accepted you will be notified in writing and your trade mark will then be advertised as an accepted application in the Australian Official Journal of Trade Marks. You can also check out the IP Australia website for more information on the timeframes of application outcomes.
How long does a trademark last for?
Your trademark registration lasts for ten years from the date that it was filed. You can renew your trademark registration 12 months before your renewal is due, or up to six months after, however you will need to pay extra fees if you renew after the due date.
Further information on trademarks
If you would like further assistance or advice in relation to brand protection and trademarks or other intellectual property issues, please contact one of our experienced practitioners to discuss more.