Trademarking A Business Name vs Logo: Differences & Benefits
Are you are a new business owner debating whether to register a trademark for your business name or logo? Read more to find out the benefits of each option.
If you are a small-medium business owner, you can easily be confused about whether you should register your business name or logo as a trademark. Trademarks are an effective way of promoting your brand while protecting your products and services. Any signs that operate as a distinct mark can be registered for trademark. Generally speaking, this can include any distinguishable signs like letters, words, names, shapes, colours, brands, labels etc. Therefore, it is best to register both your business name and logo for trademarks. However, there are situations where you will need to choose. This article explains what you should consider while registering a trademark and the benefits of registering a logo and a business name. It is pivotal that you decide wisely which version of your brand mark should you register as there are limited options available for amendment after registration.
Types of Marks and Protection Offered
Business names fall into this category. Registering a business name will only protect the name, not any particular font or style. For example, the word mark ‘Holden’ is the trademark for the Holden Group.
Any mark composed of an image or graphic falls under this category. Registering a device mark as a trademark would protect the overall shape, style and orientation of the image.
Logos that contains an image or a graphic with at least one word is classified as a composite mark. If you are planning on registering a composite mark as your trademark, you need to decide whether to file an application for the word portion of the composite mark, or for the image portion of the composite mark or both. For example, McDonald’s is a great example of a composite mark trademark. The golden arches is frequently used separately to the word McDonald’s. However, the word Mcdonalds generally appears with the famous golden arches on packaging and signage. Therefore, for maximum protection, McDonald’s has trademarked the word McDonald’s, the image of Golden Arches and the combination of both which makes up the composite mark.
Registering a Trademark for your Business’s Name
If your business name is identical or similar to a trademark already on the register, your application is likely to be rejected as you will be infringing on someone else’s trademark rights. If your business name is too generic or descriptive, IP Australia can argue that your trademark is incapable of distinguishing your brand from your competitors. However, you can overcome this obstacle by establishing that your business has been using the brand name over a long period of time and you have established your brand presence. In addition, you can also trademark specific words that have acquired a reputation in the marketplace. For example, the word mark ‘whopper’ is a registered trademark for burgers from Hungry Jacks.
For a detailed breakdown of the benefits of registering your business name as a trademark, click here.
Registering a Trademark for your Logo
Logos tend to comprise of images or graphics which are more likely to catch people’s attention and leave an impression. For example, kids and adults can easily identify a Kinder Egg chocolate due to its distinct shape and colour combination. In such scenarios, you will benefit more by registering your business logo as this offers more protection to your brand. Filing your logo as a trademark is also the practical option available if your business name was rejected for trademark.
Registering for Multiple Trademarks
Registering your name and logo as a trademark will offer you maximum benefits and protection. However, the process of registering a trademark is expensive, especially for a small start-up business. If you decide to only register for one trademark, it is essential that you compare the benefits of each option as outlined above. Many small-medium businesses opt to register their brand name prior to their logo. However, registering for both trademarks would help avoid the potential costs of any trouble in the future.
In short, if your business name forms a large part of your logo, you are better off registering your business name. This would offer your brand better protection over composite trademark or the logo as a whole. If you are unsure what mark to register for your business, we recommend contacting one of our trademark lawyers.
Anjaly is working in our Content Team as a Legal Tech Intern. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Science at Macquarie University. She has a particular interest in Intellectual Property Law, Employment Law, and exploring how technology can improve access to justice.