How to Register a Trademark? (2021 Update)
Want to protect your brand? Read here for what you need to know about how to register a trademark and the protections registration can provide you here.
So, you have spent countless hours working on the branding for your small business. Also, you have meticulously selected the colour, shape and composition of your logo. Moreover, you’re about to take the next step and expand your business nationwide. Protecting your brand should therefore be an important part of your expansion strategy. Learning how to register a trademark is highly beneficial to your small business, without it, your brand is vulnerable to misuse or worse, registration by another. Read to learn all about how to register your trademark.
What is a Trademark?
Trademarks are a valuable marketing resource that promotes and protects your products and services. A trademark is an element, or combination of elements, that make up your businesses brand. Furthermore, it is a unique way to set your brand aside from your competitors. Commonly, when businesses apply for trademarks, they are trademarking their businesses logo, emblem or slogan. More specifically, trademarks can be a particular name, word, phrase, letter, number, shape, smell, sound, colour, image or aspect of packaging. All in all, a trademark is the unique public visualisation of your business.
Why Register as a Trademark?
If you are intending to commercially market your unique product or services, you will need a trademark. Only a trademark can provide proprietary protection for your brand and prevent any unauthorised use by others in Australia. Furthermore, as a trademark owner, you have the exclusive right to use, sell and licence your trademark. Moreover, registering your brand is economically beneficial to your business, and will protect your brand from any misuse or registration by your competitors.
How to Register a Trademark
Step 1. Conduct a Search
Before you apply for a trademark, you must conduct a search of the Australian Trade Mark Online Search System. Unfortunately, you cannot register your trademark if it is identical to an already existing trademark. Therefore, this search will help you determine whether your mark is too similar or identical to already existing registered trademarks.
Step 2. Applying
Anyone can make an application. However, the trademark’s owner must make the claim. The owner can be:
- an individual;
- a company;
- an incorporated association; or
- a combination of the above.
The application is online and it must include:
- Your name and contact details;
- A representation;
- A description of the applicable goods and services;
- A list of the relevant classes; and
- The filing application fee.
Step 3. Determining the Class
To register a trademark you will need to determine the classes of goods and services appropriate to your business. This is critical as you can only commercially use your trademark within its registered class.
Notwithstanding, determining the class of goods and services for your business can be a complicated process. However, if you are unsure, it is best to get in contact with a trademark lawyer for relevant legal advice.
Step 4. Examination
Upon receiving your application, your trademark request will be examined. Unless there are grounds for rejection or not in accordance with the Trade Marks Act 1995 (Cth), your application will be accepted. Moreover, an examination report will be sent to you. This report will point out any problems with your application.
The following list identifies the common grounds for refusal:
- Contains prescribed or prohibited signs;
- It unable to be represented graphically;
- Is not distinctive;
- Scandalous or contrary to law;
- Likely to deceive or cause confusion; or
- Identical or similar to registered trademarks.
Keep in mind, that this process takes usually 3 to 4 months after filing the application. Therefore, your trademark will be registered if there are no grounds for rejection. Furthermore, it will be entered into the Australian Official Journal of Trade Marks (AOJTM) and listed under the ATMOSS.
Final Step. Registered Trademark = Protected Trademark
Once registered, your trademark will enjoy protection for a period of 10 years. You may wish to renew this protection period once it expires. If you intend to commercially expand your business internationally, you will need to make further applications. Importantly, you will be the legal owner of your trademark and will enjoy exclusive control over your mark. Thus, as the owner of a trademark, you now have the confidence to expand your brand nationally and internationally.
Zac is a consultant at Lawpath, Australia’s largest and fastest growing online legal platform. Since joining Lawpath, Zac has assisted 1000s of startups and small business’s with their legal needs.