So you’ve come up with a new brand idea and you want to protect it as a part of your business’s goodwill. In order to protect your trademark you need to register it.
What is a Trademark?
A trademark is generally a word, phrase, symbol or design that is used to distinguish the goods and/or services of a trader, from the goods and services of other traders. Examples of well-known trademarks are the golden arches “M” or the phrase “I’m Lovin It” for McDonald’s, the kangaroo that belongs to Qantas and the apple that is owned by Apple – Mac.
Trademarks represent the identity of a product or service in a unique way and accordingly, trademarks are valuable branding and marketing tools. Registering your trademark is important because it gives traders a legally enforceable right to use, licence or sell the relevant trademark.
How do you register a trademark?
Trademarks are registered by making an application to IP Australia.
If you are unsure if your trademark complies with the legislative requirements or conflicts with other existing trademarks, we recommend making a TM Headstart Application. This optional pre-assessment service comes with a small fee. In return, your trademark will be examined by a trademarks expert and if it does not meet the legal requirements or conflicts with an existing trademark, the expert will make recommendations as to how the trademark can be amended.
If you are confident with your trademark, an application can be submitted without the need for the abovementioned pre-assessment.
An application must include:
- The name and contact details of the applicant (an applicant can be an individual, company, incorporated or unincorporated association, or a combination of these);
- A representation of the trade mark (for example, an image of the trade mark that can be uploaded onto IP Australia’s website);
- A nomination of the relevant classes of goods and/or services that you intend to use your trade mark on (see http://xeno.ipaustralia.gov.au/tmgns/facelets/tmgoods.xhtml for a list of each of the classes); and
- The required fee.
Trademarks are typically examined three to four months after an application for registration is filed. During the period of examination, IP Australia will make an assessment as to whether or not the trademark meets the requirements in the Trade Practices Act 1995. If IP Australia decides that the trademark does meet the requirements, then the trademark receives “registration status”.
If the trademark does not meet the requirements, the applicant will be notified by IP Australia and given a period of 15 months to address the issues raised and meet the outstanding requirements.
Once “registration status” is received, the trademark is advertised as an accepted application in the Australian Official Journal of Trade Marks. During this time, the public can oppose registration of the trademark. In practice, very few trademarks are opposed at this stage.
If there is no opposition filed against the trademark, the trademark will be registered when the applicant pays the relevant registration fee. The registration fee must be paid within six months of the date that the trademark’s acceptance is advertised.
Do you need assistance registering a Trademark? Call us on 9232 8033 to speak to one of our lawyers.