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Maximise your brands potential use your name before trademark registration

By James Wan

What you need to know (in a nutshell)

  1. Using a brand name before It’s registered as a trademark can infringe on someone else’s trademark rights and lead to a trademark infringement complaint.
  2. The trademark registration process is not automatic and can take a minimum of 6 months.
  3. Business owners should weigh the risks and benefits of using a new brand name before It’s registered as a trademark and obtain legal advice if unsure. It’s also important to conduct a trademark search and consider registering the trademark in other countries if planning to expand into those markets

Full Article

Navigating the murky waters of brand names and trademarks can be a challenge for businesses, particularly when it comes to using a name prior to trademark registration. While there is no guarantee against infringement complaints, businesses that have used a specific logo or label for years without registering it are generally safe. However, when considering rebranding or launching new products, it is wise to analyze the risks associated with potential names before implementation.

Contrary to popular belief, applying for a trademark does not grant immediate usage rights, as with purchasing a domain name. Trademark registration is a complex process, entailing examination by the Intellectual Property (IP) Office and a public advertisement period, which can take at least six months. During this time, businesses may wonder whether they should use the proposed trademark. Weighing the risks and benefits of this decision is crucial, and consulting legal advice is recommended.

Before applying for a trademark, businesses should research existing trademarks in their industry. If a brand is distinctive and unlikely to infringe on others’ rights, the risk of infringement is low. However, it is prudent to wait for the IP Office’s examination results before using or displaying the trademark. If objections arise due to descriptiveness or genericity, businesses can proceed with using the name, but caution must still be exercised, as opposition may emerge even after official approval.

Businesses should exercise their judgement when protecting their brand, considering industry knowledge and the potential difficulty of adopting a new identity if required. If the risk of introducing a new brand is high, waiting for trademark protection may be the best course of action. Registering trademarks in relevant markets, both domestic and international, can help ensure comprehensive coverage and deter potential infringers.