Avoiding the Pitfall of Not Protecting Your Business Name or Product
Imagine registering your business/company name and spending thousands of dollars on web site designs and set up, business cards, letterheads, advertising, etc to find that someone else has prior rights to the name you have chosen and you have to change your name and start again! What a shock to your time, energy and budget.
The best way to get exclusive rights to your name or the name of your new product or service is through trade mark registration.
Unfortunately, a lot of business owners mistakenly believe that business or company name registration is all you need and that you then have exclusive ownership of the name. That's not necessarily the case and you could find that you need to change your name, even if it is registered as a business or company name.
Trade mark registration provides much more protection against competitors trying to trade on your reputation by using your name, or a name similar to it, which would cause confusion in the marketplace, than a business or company name registration.
Registration of a business name doesn’t stop anyone who lives in another state from registering the same or something very close to yours and trading off your good reputation. Currently you can only register a business name in each state if you have a business address in each of those states.
By contrast, once you register a trade mark, no one in Australia can use a name that’s the same or similar to yours in your industry.
Registering a trade mark is done through IP Australia and does not have to be restricted to a business name. A trade mark registration can cover a letter, number, word, phrase, smell, shape, logo, picture or a combination of these.
The name of a new business or product should be thoroughly researched by experienced trade mark searchers to ensure that the name is available and then a trade mark application filed to ensure you maintain exclusive rights in the brand product.
While anyone can file a trade mark application to register a trade mark, the registration process can be quite complex. However, a specialist in this area will guide you through the process to achieve the desired registration.
As well, a trade mark specialist can help you avoid starting use of a name which has already been registered and save you spending money unnecessarily!
The average cost to file a trade mark application in one class is usually less than $400, with registration fees payable in about 8-10 months. Once registration fees are paid you have exclusive rights to your name/trade mark for 10 years with no further fees to pay. That’s not a lot of money for peace of mind and for the ability to take action against a competitor anywhere in Australia.
Every business starts out small, but for businesses that don’t protect their brand from the start, it can be disastrous when they make it big. You never know where your business will end up, whether its country- wide or taking the name overseas.
By Suzanne Harrington - Pinnacle TMS Pty Ltd
Phone 0425 558 867
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