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Why Trade Mark Registration Is So Important For Your Business

When Oscar Wilde coined the phrase that ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’, he clearly wasn’t thinking about the highly competitive world of business!

A strong brand identity is a powerful marketing and brand-building tool and registering it as a trade mark provides the business with exclusive rights and protects their valuable intellectual property.   The very last thing a company needs is to invest time, money and effort building an identity for their brand, products or services, only to discover that a competitor has copied or closely imitated it.

Without the legal protection of a trade mark registration, there’s often no recourse and the fall-out may be significant.  The competitor may poach customers and could even conduct their business in such a way that the other business’s reputation ends up being damaged.

And then there is the scenario where a company creates a brand identity which they believe to be unique and invests heavily in establishing that identity, only to discover that it has already been registered.  Then what?

These scenarios illustrate just why protecting brand identity and trade mark registration are key imperatives for every business – large or small.

In Australia, all trade mark applications and registrations are governed by IP Australia.  A trade mark can be a business or product name, symbol, logo, slogan, packaging, sound or even colour that is unique and characteristic of a particular brand.  Essentially, any ‘sign’ that a business uses that is capable of distinguishing the relevant goods or services promoted under the trade mark.

Only a registered trade mark can carry the ®symbol and in Australia it is an offence to use that symbol (or to generally represent a trade mark to be a registered trade mark) if the trade mark hasn’t been registered.   The letters ‘TM’ can be added after unregistered trade marks when in use but whilst this is allowed, it is important to note that this does not necessarily provide legal protection. Certainly, trade mark searches should be carried out before using the TM symbol alongside any name/logo to ensure there’s no risk that the use of that name or logo will infringe the rights of others.

Under Australian laws, it is also sometimes possible to protect a trade mark that hasn’t been registered, but this can be an expensive, challenging and time-consuming process. Typically, this will require the unregistered trade mark to be reasonably well known amongst consumers or for the business to be able to demonstrate a reputation in connection with the unregistered trade mark.

In summary, a strong, unique and recognisable brand identity (including a logo, symbol or slogan) is beneficial for the following reasons:

  • provides instant brand recognition
  • helps build reputation
  • has a positive influence on consumers’ buying decisions
  • allows a business to stand out in the competitive marketplace
  • increases in value as the success of the business or brand grows

With that in mind, here’s a summary of the key reasons why businesses should apply for trade mark registration to protect their valuable brand identity:

  • provides exclusive rights to the use of the identity in relation to nominated goods/services
  • protects brand identity – a valuable business asset
  • makes it harder for other entities or competitors to copy or imitate their identity
  • gives businesses the right to object to unauthorised use of the brand identity
  • provides a legal advantage over the competition
  • enhances the perception that a business or brand is reputable and has integrity

If you are starting a business or launching a new product or brand, it is recommended that you get professional advice on how best to protect your intellectual property through trade mark registration.  MMW Trademark Services’ qualified trade mark attorney, Jacqui Pryor, has years of experience in the complex field of trade mark law in Australia and you are welcome to get in touch through our website,  https://www.mmwtrademarks.com.au/ or call us on 03 8288 1432.

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