How many businesses could you identify solely based on an individual shape, colour, word, phrase, sound, scent, letter, number or image? Loads of companies come to mind which require nothing more than their symbolic shape or colour as identifiers. Think the golden arches, Louis Vuitton’s LV monogram, Google’s colour palette, the Nike tick or the scent of iconic perfume, Chanel No5.
All of these elements contribute to brand equity and can be secured by registering them as trademarks. A trade mark is enforceable under Intellectual Property (IP) law and is used to set apart your goods and services from your competitors. This ultimately protects your business from others using elements of your brand identity.
Why do I need to trademark my logo?
The more successful your business, the more valuable your trademark becomes. This makes it increasingly more important for you to protect your business and brand reputation. As the owner of a registered trademark you have a multitude of different rights. According to IP Australia your rights include:
- Exclusive rights to use your registered trade mark as a brand name for the goods or services registered.
- Exclusive rights to authorise other people to use your trademark.
- Trademarks become personal property and can be sold.
- Registration of your trademark will usually be covered nationally.
- You will be in a stronger position to stop people from using your trademark as their brand name on similar goods or services registered.
What elements of my logo can I actually trademark?
You’d be surprised at how many different elements of a brand you can trademark. After all, there is more than one factor which makes up your brand identity. Not only can you trademark a scent, movement or sound you can even trademark plants! IP Australia provides a full list on the different types of trademarks including the registration process for individual elements.
How do I apply for a trademark?
First you need to determine if you’re eligible to apply for a trade mark. In order to do so, you must:
- Intend to use it in relation to the goods and services you’re registering for.
- Be an individual, company, incorporated association or a combination of these.
- Apply for the trademark as an individual (business owner) and not as a business name.
- Ensure your trademark doesn’t conflict with other trademarks already registered (if you’re unsure you can check via the Australian Trademark Online Search System)
There are a couple of points you’ll need to watch out for as there are particular signs which are prohibited and may make it difficult for you to register a trademark. This includes:
- Denoting the kind, quality, intended purpose or value of the goods or services.
- Using common surnames or geographical names.
- Conflicting with an earlier trade mark.
- Or have the potential to mislead the public about the nature of the goods or services.
Apply for a Standard Trademark Online
If you’re comfortable that your potential trademark meets the requirements as outlined above you can simply apply for your trademark online. Your application will be examined by IP Australia to ensure it adheres to the law and does not conflict with an existing trademark, this generally takes around 13 weeks.
Registering a trademark for your business is a relatively simple if you follow the rules surrounding the process. Ensuring your trademark application is unique and relevant to your product or services and doesn’t conflict with existing trademarks will help speed up the process.