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Protect your brand learn how to securely trademark your business name

By James Wan

What you need to know (in a nutshell)

  1. Trademarks can include personal names and can be used to increase brand loyalty and grow a company’s reputation.
  2. To trademark a personal name, the IP office may require consent from the person or their estate or confirmation that the name is made up.
  3. To trademark a business name, one must specify the classes and goods and services for which they intend to use the trademark, conduct a thorough search to ensure the name is not already registered, submit an application to the IP office and respond to any objections promptly.

Full Article

Traditionally, trademarks have served as an essential means for consumers to identify the origin or manufacturer of various products, akin to a king’s monogram on a wax seal or an artist’s signature on their work. Establishing brand loyalty and goodwill in local and international markets is achievable by fostering trust and recognising a company’s logo and slogans. This article delves into the formal registration of trademarks for names rather than logos or images.

Personal names are indeed encompassed by trademark law, granting legal protection and exclusive rights over specific words, phrases, or symbols that differentiate one product from another. Musicians, artists, and fashion designers commonly trademark their names to establish their brand. Consequently, the Intellectual Property Office necessitates specific information to verify registration eligibility. Consent for registration must be obtained directly from the living individual or from an executor or administrator designated by the estate if the person is deceased. These measures ensure that only legitimate trademarks are registered with IPAustralia, safeguarding unique works and creations under the law.

When conceptualising a business name, it is crucial to determine whether the product or service brand should be officially registered as a trademark. This grants the owner exclusive rights to use the name and associated branding elements for specified goods or services within designated classes. For example, Kylie Minogue has successfully acquired trademarks across various categories, such as sound recordings, entertainment products, clothing, household linens, furniture, photographic visuals, and picture prints. Registering a trade name under intellectual property law necessitates providing details on the types of goods and services marketed under the trademark, which must fit into suitable class(es).

Sometimes, a company may successfully register another person’s trademarked name for different goods or services if customers are unlikely to confuse the two marks. An example is the registration of Alex Perry Hotels & Apartments in Australia, despite the prior registration of the designer’s clothing brand under his personal name. In such instances, the IP Office is expected to inquire about ownership before accepting registration, which may include obtaining permission from existing trademark owners or verifying authenticity.

Trademarking a strategic business decision is crucial to protect intellectual property rights over ideas with commercial value, such as distinct product names and logos employed in branding materials. TMchecks streamlines the trademarking process, including conducting a comprehensive search to ensure the name was not previously registered. The proposed name must be distinctive to circumvent objections from the Intellectual Property Office during the application process.

A thorough search should be carried out to ascertain that the proposed trademark name is different from an existing registered trademark. Before submitting your application, use the IPAustralia website and online sources such as business directories to identify potential brand confusion issues. Remember that the registration process takes time and often entails communication with IPAustralia to meet legal requirements.

Trademark applications undergo an examination process by IPAustralia’s Trademark Examiners to determine whether the proposed mark fulfils legal registration requirements and does not conflict with existing applications or registrations. Once accepted, trademarks enter a two-month opposition phase where third parties can submit oppositions against registration. If no oppositions are raised, the trademark becomes eligible for successful registration.

The overall procedure typically spans six months to several more, depending on factors such as backlogs at IPAustralia. To avert further delays, it is advisable to resolve objections promptly and consider engaging qualified counsel specialising in intellectual property law for smooth navigation through the bureaucratic process.

Upon trademark registration, the registered trademark symbol ® can be used alongside the name, providing exclusive rights and protection for the brand name and ensuring long-term security for its use in business operations.