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Don't risk your business, protect your brand with a trademark

By TMchecks

What you need to know (in a nutshell)

  1. Trademarks can apply to more than just words or names, including sounds, symbols, shapes, and logos.
  2. Trademarks should not be generic or descriptive to prevent competitors from using the same phrases and to maintain a strong online presence.
  3. It is important to register trademarks in the correct class to fully protect a brand.
  4. Applying for trademarks internationally should be considered, as a trademark may be available in some countries but not others.

Full Article

Numerous businesses succeed but only to be undone by something unexpected. It’s heartbreaking when a booming business and idea are destroyed so quickly without any warning.

Starting a business in Australia involves obtaining an ABN, purchasing domain names and working on your pitch. If you want to get investors then protecting intellectual property is key when pitching; so trademarks should be prioritised. When funds are low, people tend to take this process into their own hands or think hiring a professional will cover any risks - the IPAustralia website appears straightforward enough after all!

This article helps you protect your brand when it comes to trademarks. It outlines important points for those just starting, as well as common mistakes made by businesses that experience rapid success and become overconfident.

Learning how to identify the markers of successful trademark registration, as well as when it is beneficial to hire a professional service can save you from costly issues and stress. (It really does).

To avoid nightmares you should trademark your brand

Suppose you have a great name for your product, software, business concept or whatever it may be. After searching IPAustralia’s easy search facility and nothing coming up makes you think the venture can begin without any issues. But is this true?

Branding can involve more than words or names; sounds, symbols, shapes and logos are also trademarkable. If a brand is similar in sound to another one with a trademark—or looks like it visually or conceptually—it could be an issue.

An IPAustralia rejection or opposition of a trademark application after quick research online can be discouraging and costly, as any brand development did up to that point will have been in vain.

Commonly, people make the error of selecting generic or descriptive trademarks. If ‘Sydney Surf Store’ is registered as a trademark but competitors are still able to use this same phrase, it becomes difficult for your business to remain dominant online. Competitors can also target these phrases in their SEO strategies and Google Ads without consequence which further impedes your position within search engine rankings.

Incorrectly picking a trademark classification can be disastrous. For instance, if you’re in the retail business and don’t manufacture shoes, your application should include “retailing of shoes,” not just “footwear.” Not realising this mistake could lead to someone else taking ownership of what you thought was already yours.

Many companies have encountered problems when only filing for trademarks in Australia and New Zealand. This is often done to save money but it can be costly if the trademark isn’t available internationally, even though it’s approved domestically.

The solution of setting up multiple brand names for different countries can lead to extra work, such as needing distinct logos and packaging. This is in addition to the need for two websites, plus individual social media accounts. It may make potential investors or partners consider a business less favourable because its success has been tied to one original label name instead.

Reach your peak or slowing down?

Picture a future where you’ve worked tirelessly building your business. After a few years of success, all the large goals set out were achieved - maybe there are distributors and partners across the world with a continual interest in what was created.

Suddenly, you receive a letter from an international brand accusing you of trademark infringement. You have just seven days to remove all products bearing the trademark and any related materials - including print marketing, website content and social media posts.

Financial ruin or serious stress can occur when a business suddenly has to deal with legal cases, especially if it is growing and gaining more attention. This will put any new plans on hold as the situation must be dealt with first.

Such cases are rarely heard of on the news or in conversations. They usually go unknown, only seen by people like us who witness their aftermath firsthand. These issues are not openly discussed and often unfold behind closed doors.

It is important to note that these blunders are not exclusive to rookie business owners or those without knowledge. Even highly intelligent people who hire professionals can make mistakes too.

Minimise mistakes by involving a trademark professional

When people attempt to register a trademark themselves or enlist someone who isn’t an expert in this field, it often leads to negative outcomes.

There are hundreds of incidents in which trademarks were contested or blocked. When you understand both sides of a trademark infringement case, it’s easier to recognize how disputes arise.

Asking many questions when discussing trademark registration is necessary as it is important to have a strategy in place. A trademark expert will know which queries will be most beneficial and what potential issues may arise. Ultimately, everyone requires more than just the trademark itself; they need an effective plan for utilizing it too.

When is the best time to trademark a brand? A good strategy can help.

Before securing domains and ABN, any proposed trademark should be examined for its suitability. This includes brand names related to products or services one wishes to register.

After a search and any potential issues are brought up, they should be discussed to prompt further questions.

The initial searches can reveal that other names or marks must be considered, so the same steps are repeated. International trademarks can be searched if they’re part of the goals.

If a trademark is blocked, you don’t need to be left hanging. There are ways to overcome these obstacles if that’s what you want to do.

A holistic approach to trademarking your brand is preferred beyond simply highlighting potential issues but rather provides you with the safest path.

A feasible brand can be a suitable option to consider if the one you want won’t likely be approved. A good evaluation will consider trademark, enforceability and commercial factors before a trademark application is submitted.