Can I Trademark a Phrase?

Sep 22, 2016
Reading Time: 2 minutes
Written by Nishita John

You are all set to launch a brand new marketing campaign for your business. You have developed a witty phrase that has the potential to rival a “Just Do It”, “I’m lovin’ it” or a “Because You’re Worth It”. How can you protect your phrase from others? Can a phrase be trademarked?

A good phrase can help your brand stand out in a crowded market. Registering a trademark can provide proprietary protection for your phrase and prevent any unauthorised use by others in Australia. However, applying for a trademark can be a time-consuming and a complicated process. To save time LawPath recommends getting in touch with a trademark attorney.

How can I trademark a phrase in Australia? Let’s learn all about it.

Can I trademark a ‘phrase’?

The answer is yes. Simply put, a trademark is a sign used to distinguish goods or services and a ‘sign’ can be any letter, word, name, signature, numeral, device, brand, heading, label, ticket, aspect of packaging, shape, colour, sound or scent.

In the digital age, phrases can spread and catch on quickly that you might see your phrase on a t-shirt in ASOS or on a popular website. For that reason, if you do have an exceptional phrase, you should consider trademark registration. ‘Just do it’!

What cannot be a trademark?

Non-distinctive and generic words cannot be trademarked in Australia if they are common words that do not distinguish a product or service. The reason for this is that trademarking generic words to describe a service or product may give the trademark holder an unfair advantage over its competitors.

However, trademarks by themselves become common terms over time. For example – Just google it!, ‘Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline’. In these cases sufficient evidence can be established that the trademark itself becomes distinguished.

How can you register your phrase as a trademark?

There are practical benefits in registering as a trademark. A trademark owner has the exclusive right to use, sell and licence their trademark. If you intend to commercially market your product, only a trademark can provide proprietary protection and prevent any unauthorised use. Find out more about how to register your trademark with this helpful guide.

Can you get sued over using a ‘phrase’?

Using a phrase that’s registered as a trademark can lead to infringement. This means that an injunction can be filed against you or damages can be awarded for any financial loss suffered. It’s better to conduct a search of the Australian Trade Mark Online Search System to check if a phrase has been registered as a trademark.

If you are looking to register your phrase as a trademark you will need to get in touch with a trademark attorney. With LawPath you will have the expert guidance of a trademark attorney to assist with your trademark registration.

LawPath has access to highly qualified IP attorneys that can help with your trademark. Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800LAWPATH to learn more about customising legal documents, obtaining a fixed-fee quote from our network of 600+ expert lawyers or any other legal needs.

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