Ever wondered what ™ and ® next to some of your favourite brands represent?

™ generally represents that there is a trademark application pending, while ® represents a registered trademark. In Australia, it is a chargeable offence to use ® if your trademark is not fully registered.

   

Why register a trademark apart from legally being able to put a cool ® symbol next to your brand name, logo, etc?

Why do some brands command such power that customers would queue for days for a launch of a new product? What makes you choose a pair of Nikes over a pair of Reeboks? What makes Apple, well, Apple?

Simply, branding is powerful.

Apple Corps is a multimedia company formed by the Beatles, nine years before Apple Computers (now Apple Inc) was launched. The two Apples have crossed paths on several high profile occasions for trademark infringement, before a settlement by Apple Inc, who now owns the trademark and licenses it out to Apple Corps. Isn’t it amazing how a generic and simple word like ‘apple’ can be given so much importance?

As a business owner, you would work hard to distinguish your business. To ensure that you are able to continuously build your brand’s value, it is essential that you trademark what is uniquely your business.

It is also crucial that you do not develop a ‘sign’ that infringes on another party’s rights. As a result, before starting an extensive branding campaign, it is crucial for any business owner to do a trademark search.

As part of our LawPath Trademark Registration process, you will be able to conduct a trademark search, and our LawPath Trademark Attorneys will also be able to advise you further.

How powerful are trademark rights?

A famous illustration of trademark rights is the David and Goliath narrative of Burger King’s expansion into Australia. When Burger King moved into Australia, the name ‘Burger King’ was trademarked by a takeaway food shop in Adelaide. As a result, the Australian master franchisee had to choose the name Hungry Jack’s, and the small ‘Burger King’ business prevailed!

Trademarks in the Internet Age

Many trademarks have fallen victim to ‘genericide’ – when a trademark becomes a generic term and can no longer be identified with a particular product or service (zipper, elevator, aspirin are some famous examples).

In our internet age, the widespread uncontrollable trend of people generalising brand names may affect trademarks. To illustrate, the brand Google has been so widely used as a verb “to google” that it is included in the Oxford English Dictionary, among others! While Google has not fallen victim to ‘genericide’, it is clear why they would worry about the effect of widespread colloquial use on their trademark.

Did You Know

Did you know that the word ‘superhero’ and variations of it are trademarked jointly by Marvel and DC Comics? It is definitely one of the more controversial trademarks!

While there is much debate about its legitimacy, there has not been extensively determined in a court if Marvel and DC Comics could claim ownership to a word like ‘superhero’.

Also, did you know Hallmark lost a trademark case to Paris Hilton for using the phrase “That’s hot”? That’s right!

Quick Recap

Trademarking is an important aspect of business, to protect the distinguishing features of your business.

We will leave you with the words of the famous British slogan, Keep Calm and Carry On (Which is also incidentally undergoing a trademark dispute).

 

Unsure where to start? 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 to get answers to your legal questions.

Dominic Woolrych

Dominic is the CEO of LawPath, dedicating his days to making legal easier, faster and more accessible to businesses. Dominic is a recognised thought-leader in Australian legal disruption, and was recognised as a winner of the 2015 Australian Legal Innovation Index.