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Protect your brand how to securely trademark your slogan

By James Wan

What you need to know (in a nutshell)

  1. A slogan is a catchy and memorable phrase used in advertising to represent a business or brand.
  2. A trademarked slogan can be a valuable asset as it conveys your brand messaging and ensures exclusive rights to use the slogan.
  3. Trademarking a slogan must be unique, not descriptive, and available for registration, and it should set your goods and services apart from competitors. The slogan must also be registered with IPAustralia.

Full Article

Slogans, catchphrases, mottos, and taglines represent a business or brand’s values, often encapsulating key messages about their products or services. For instance, Woolworths’ “The Fresh Food People” and Sanitarium’s “Aussie kids are Weet-bix kids” showcase the power of cleverly crafted phrases. To capitalise on these benefits, businesses should register their trademark slogans to enhance brand recognition and protect against intellectual property disputes.

Registering a trademark slogan, however, is only feasible if it is deemed unique or distinctive, meaning commonplace phrases or industry jargon may not qualify. To register a slogan, it must not describe any attributes of the business or product and should be distinct from competitors’ offerings. A thorough trademark search must also be conducted to ensure no identical or similar slogans have been registered.

Examples of successfully trademarked slogans include Visa’s “The way the world pays” and Mastercard’s “There are some things that money can’t buy; for everything else there is Mastercard.” In contrast, slogans like “Unbelievable value” or “Don’t pay more” may be barred from registration due to their potential to mislead consumers.

Some businesses, like JB Hi-Fi, have successfully employed unregistered slogans like “Always cheapest prices,” while others, such as Bunnings, have secured trademark registration for their taglines. In some cases, non-distinctive trademarks may still be registered if they have acquired distinctiveness through long-term use.

To maximise the likelihood of trademark approval, businesses should craft original, easily recognisable slogans that encapsulate their core values. They must also consider factors such as length and word choice. If a slogan alone is not sufficiently unique, registering a combination of brand name and logo may prove advantageous.

Before registering a slogan as a trademark, businesses should assess whether a word-only or word-and-logo combination is most appropriate and comprehensively search existing trademarks. It is important to note that registration does not guarantee exclusive rights over the words, meaning other companies may use similar phrases in non-competing areas without legal consequences.