Why You Need a Trademark
A trademark is a method used to identify a unique product or service. It offers brand protection because no competitor would ever have the same trademark. As soon as you have designed your trademark you can register it and then it is available for your exclusive use. You can use it to identify your products when you have started a marketing campaign with your targeted customers. It is a way of showing customers who you are. As your business becomes more successful the value of your trademark increases.
You can create a trademark and not register it and make use of it to market your goods and services. However, if you do not register your trademark you will not have any intellectual property (IP) protection for your product(s).
Types of trademarks
Trademarks can be anything from your corporate logo, to your business name engraved on the side of a truck you use for your business or, if you prefer, your packaging or signage. It may also be created using any of the following forms:
- a word written in any type of plain font;
- a single letter;
- a picture;
- a phrase;
- a number;
- a logo;
- a feature of your business’s packaging.
One common error frequently made when naming a trademark is an assumption that the business’s name is the same as the trademark when it is not.
Benefits of a trademark
Marketing your product or service is one of the most important things you are likely to do as a business owner so having your own unique trademark has many benefits for your business.
- It brings value to your business.There are many examples of how trademarks have been used so successfully that they have quickly added value to a business. One example is McDonalds and the way the golden arches are used to quickly identify the brand. It has made billions for the owners of the trademark as well as restaurant franchisees.
- You will have national protection for your brand. Once you have decided on a unique feature to be your trademark you can register it. This is a legal procedure and stops anyone using your trademark to market their product throughout Australia. If at some point you want to market your product to an overseas market it helps to have a registered trademark in Australia as this makes the process a lot simpler.
- You will have the rights to sell, use, and licence the trademark. When you have become the owner of a trademark you have exclusive rights over it so you can control your brand. Once registered, you are given the right to commercially use the trademark. This is of great value when using marketing strategies to enhance your brand recognition and grow your business. You may also capitalise on your brand’s positive reputation by selling your trademark to another business owner.
- When you market and distribute your products, 3rd parties, like manufacturers, franchisees and distributors, may have taken on some responsibilities for handling your brand. To be sure your brand is suitably protected you can go through the licensing process.
- Protecting your brand from unauthorised use. Only a trademark can offer exclusive protection for your brand and stop any unauthorised use in Australia by anyone else. Competitors, such as other businesses, could try to benefit from your reputation and use your brand or part of your logo, brand pattern or image for use with their own goods. This could mislead your typical customers into believing that the product or service they are buying is your own.
- If you do not have a registered trademark, trying to protect your brand from any unauthorised use could be expensive. But, as a trademark owner, you do have the right to commence proceedings against any competitors that decide to make use of your trademark.
- Stop any competitors from registering a trademark which is similar. The quicker you go through the process of registering your trademark, the better you will be protected. According to the 1995 Trademarks Act, a competitor or another business, is not permitted to register a trademark that is either similar or identical to any registered trademark. If you do not register your trademark, you will not have any legal rights if any other business violates your intellectual property. By going through the process of registering a trademark also confirms that there is no trademark in use that is either similar or the same as yours.
- If your trademark is registered, you may show the ® symbol. By displaying this symbol near your brand immediately gives respect to it from customers, both old and new. There are no penalties for using the TM symbol, but it is an offence to use the ® symbol if you have failed to register your trademark. The trademark registration will last for 10 years from the date it was filed.
- Your trademark is protected by law but if someone uses your trademark it is breaking the law under the 2010 Competition and Consumer Act.
You are required to make use of your trademark. If you do not, it can be removed from you. This is done as a way of discouraging businesses from registering a lot of trademarks. Anybody can apply to get a trademark removed due to lack of use. However, a lack of use application may only be made after five years following the submission date for a registered trademark. You need to show it has been at least 3 years since the trademark was last used. If someone else requests to get your trademark removed from the register, you will be notified so that you will be able to defend the removal of your trademark.
In summary, a trademark offers legal protection for the parts of your business which are of high value. If you protect your intellectual property soon after developing your product, it will allow you to expand and further develop your business so that your customers will get to know your brand and love it.