Why Register A Trade Mark?
First, what is a trade mark?
When you register a trade mark, it identifies the source of a product or service. In essence, it’s your brand. When customers see your trade mark, they can be confident they’re buying your goods or services, with the quality that you’re known for. Registered trade marks are granted by the Commonwealth government. They give you a number of rights and protections that are set out in legislation.
A registered trade mark can save you money, time and aggravation
Imagine being confronted with a Letter of Demand from an attorney firm that claims you’re infringing a client’s trade mark. What if it were true? Unfortunately, registering your business name and securing the domain name isn’t enough.
What would it cost to pay damages? Or to give up the profits you earned while accidentally using that trade mark? How about the attorneys’ fees?
Then there’s the expense of renaming your business, binning your stationery, printing new marketing collateral, having new signs made. And paying someone to take the old ones away.
By the time you’d finally done all that, would your old customers still be able to find you? Would your business even survive?
A registered trade mark is your defence against infringement claims
Now imagine being able to show that same attorney firm your registered trade mark. Once you register a trade mark, no one can sue you for using it.
This is why it’s worth registering your trade mark.
No one else can use your registered trade mark . . .
Now let’s consider the positive advantages of registering a trade mark.
When you register a trade mark in Australia, no one but you can use it here. You can stop others from using that brand. Even when it comes to closely-related goods and services, if there’s meaningful risk of people being confused then you still have a strong argument on your side.
. . . and you can use it anywhere in the country
Here’s a subtle but important point.
Unless you register a trade mark, it’s possible for a business in another city or state to use the same name. Could you prove in court (to a judge’s satisfaction) that you already have a reputation or a meaningful presence where that other business is trading? If not, then you can’t do much about it. Worse yet: now you can’t trade there yourself!
By that point it may well be too late to register your own trade mark, certainly not without complications and limitations.
Whereas if you register your mark while starting up your business, you’re free to operate anywhere in Australia.
Do you ever hope to do business outside your home town? Do you reckon you might even do business outside your home town by accident ? Now you can see why it’s wise not to delay getting professional advice about trade mark issues.
You can enforce your trade mark rights, in court if need be
Trust us, you don’t want to go to court.
But if you have to, you can enforce your rights in court.
More often, it will be sufficient to have your attorney provide a polite but formal word of warning to the offending party. A registered trade mark also gives you other avenues to protect your brand. Online businesses (eg www.alibaba.com) are willing to listen to complaints from registered trade mark owners. So are Customs (now the Australian Border Force).
There are other ways to profit from your registered trade mark
Registering a trade mark gives you an intellectual property asset. You can sell it, license it, even use it for collateral. And you don’t have wait until you’re as big as Coca-Cola® or Nike®.
This allows you to outsource, if you like. You retain the right to control how your brand is used, and can impose quality control as well.
If your business is set up to allow that sort of strategy, it can provide you with a lasting revenue stream entirely apart from everyday trading operations.
When you register a trade mark, it shows you’re serious
A trade mark is also concrete evidence that you’re serious about your brand. This begins to matter once you’re dealing with banks, suppliers, manufacturers, business associates, licensees, potential staff and (eventually) prospective buyers of your business. In some circumstances, others will require that you’ve secured the rights to your brand before they’ll be willing to do business with you.
So, why wait?
If you’re not sure that your preferred business name is safe to use here on Main Street, why delay getting trade mark advice?
If you reckon your business idea has legs, and you may be trading all across Australia, why delay getting trade mark advice?
If you’re planning the next brand-driven billion-dollar multinational, why delay getting mark advice?
If you want to avoid the trials and tribulations above (and get the benefits we mentioned), why delay getting trade mark advice?
We’d be happy to have an informal chat to learn about your business’s needs. Of course, beyond our first discussions there’s no further obligation on your part. If you’d like to have a word, please send us a message via our Contacts page.