A strong brand helps small businesses to establish an identity and stand out from competitors. One way to protect your brand is with a registered trade mark.
With only 4% of small business in Australia owning a registered trade mark, many businesses are unaware of the measures they can take to protect their brand.
What is a registered trade mark?
A registered trade mark legally protects your brand and helps customers distinguish your products or services in the market. Trade marks can be used to protect a logo, phrase, word, letter, colour, sound, smell, picture, movement, aspect of packaging or any combination of these.
A common misconception is that a trade mark is the same thing as a business name or domain name, and it’s not. A registered trade mark provides exclusive legal rights.
You can check the availability of your trade mark using IP Australia’s new tool – TM Checker”.
What are the benefits of a registered trade mark?
A registered trade mark can help you build a memorable experience with your customers, and lead to brand loyalty and repeat business. Registering a trade mark also gives you exclusive rights to use that trade mark as your brand in Australia, and you have a legal avenue to prevent others from using it for the same goods and services. You can benefit from:
- Exclusivity: exclusive rights to use the trade mark across all Australian states, for an initial period of 10 years with the ability to renew indefinitely
- Protection: a legal avenue to stop others from using your registered trade mark on similar goods and services
- Licensing: the ability to authorise others to use your registered trade mark. This is a powerful tool when you create agreements with producers, distributors, sellers or contractors
- Business value: a registered trade mark can be bought, sold or transferred which can increase the value of your business.
What are the risks of not having a registered trade mark?
Did you know…
- 48% of small business have to rebrand due to a contested trade mark infringement (In an intellectual property survey of small to medium businesses with 91 Australian respondents)
- $130k-$240k is the average cost of small business rebrand, not including loss of search engine optimisation (SEO) (In a US survey of small businesses <$30m revenue)
- 3 out of 4 trade mark infringements lead to costly litigation, on average costing $100,000 (In a survey of global brands)
Trade mark business story: Tutu By You
Tutu By You was launched in 2020 by business partners and cousins, Steph Young and Emily Murray. Steph and Emily wanted to create a brand for kids and something that would bring much joy and happiness to the world. They considered intellectual property (IP) protection early in their business start-up, with their ‘Sparkle Bands’. Sparkle Bands were a unique item from their business that Steph and Emily protected using a combination of a registered design right and a registered trade mark.
Hear more about Tutu By You and their journey to commercialisation and IP protection.
Ways to use and enforce your registered trade mark
As the owner of intellectual property (IP) rights, it’s your responsibility to ensure you protect them. We’ve listed below some methods you can use to protect your brand:
Using the ‘R’ symbol
Using the ‘R’ symbol next to your registered trade mark to notify others of your protected status will help disincentivise others from misuse.
Online advertising protection
With a registered trade mark, advertising platforms like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter will remove any advertisement that uses your protected phrase or word mark.
If you suspect goods infringing your registered trade marks or copyright are being imported into Australia, you can lodge a Notice of Objection with the Australian Border Force (ABF) with details of your registered trade mark. This gives the ABF the authority to temporarily seize suspected infringing goods.
Monitor your brand
Monitor your brand’s online presence and track any mentions of your brand. This will help you to identify potential issues and act quickly.
Take part online
Participate in digital communities and online conversations by engaging with your customers through social media, online forums and other online channels. This will not only help build your brand and show your customers that you care but will help you monitor negative and/or mis-leading information about your brand.
Visit the IP Australia website to understand how a trade mark can support your business’ success, and how to apply for one.