When it comes to business, a trade mark is one of the most important marketing and business tools that you can own. But it’s often forgotten. After witnessing many instances over the past 18 years, Maggie Yarak, Principal Solicitor of YLP Legal – Your Legal Partner, raises the question: is your trade mark registered?
A trade mark is defined as a way in which a unique product or service is identified to the public and is commonly known as your business’ brand. Your trade mark can include your business’ name, logo, brand colours, letters, phrases, sounds, smells or pictures, just to name a few.
Your trade mark is important as it is the primary way your customers or clients associate your product or business with your brand. Therefore, it’s essential that you protect your trade mark from others using it unauthorised.
To help keep you and your trade mark safe, Maggie has put together five key pain points owners often deal with when they mistakenly forget to register their trademark (and the benefits you’ll gain by avoiding them).
#1: If your business is not trade marked, people may use your brand without your authorisation
Unless your trade mark is registered, competitors are may use your brand for their own gain without your consent.
The impacts of this on your business can be severe. They can be as frustrating as a loss of income due to customers receiving your goods and services from a competitor using your brand, to as painful as potential litigious matters. Not having full control of your trade mark leaves you at increased risk of liability.
There’s also a chance that your brand may be damaged because someone else can use it for actions outside of your control or approval.
By registering your trade mark from the get-go, you ensure that competitors can never use your brand, either knowingly or unknowingly, keeping you in control of its image and trading.
#2: Your business can get lost in the crowd (and lose revenue!)
If you don’t register your trade mark, you’re potentially positioning your business to never stand out from its competitors and the general market, meaning you’re also missing out on financial gain.
By registering your trade mark, you can ensure that your business will always stay unique and by protecting it, you will send a message to imitators that you’re willing to protect your brand and financial viability of your business.
It can also increase the overall value of your business, which is based on a number of matters including the value of your trade mark.
As a result, the more you protect your trade mark now, the more valuable it will be for you in the long run.
#3: You might run into trouble overseas
Not registering your trade mark can mean that other competitors around Australia may not even be aware that it’s in use. It also limits you from knowing if your trade mark is viable overseas as another, international business may have that trade mark.
Once registered in Australia, you are protected as per your registration from international businesses with the same trade mark registering here too, no matter their weight (just think about the infamous ‘Burger King/Hungry Jacks’ scenario).
In addition, once your Australian trade mark registration is complete, international trade mark applications for your business become much simpler!
#4: Someone else could register your trade mark
Imagine you’ve been doing business under your trade mark for years when, suddenly, you’re sued for trade mark infringement. Surprise! Someone else has registered your trade mark for their own business.
There is only a two (2) month period in which you can oppose the competitor’s registration. If you don’t then you might then find yourself in a very tricky situation. You’re forced to rebrand, re-network, and re-establish your entire business with a new name and look after years of trade under another. And it’s all because you didn’t register your trade mark when you first started out.
The earlier you register your trade mark, the better. Once it’s registered, you’re blocking a competitor from registering a similar or identical trade mark in the same class as your business.
This will prevent unnecessary costs as you will not need to pay to rebrand or pay for legal costs to fight any infringements from a competitor.
#5: You’ll lose the ability to control your brand growth and consistency
If you fail to register your trade mark, you can’t comfortably put in time, money, or effort to grow your brand and expand your business.
But if you do, then the inverse is possible!
Registering your trademark gives you the exclusive right to commercialise, allowing you to license, expand, or sell your business as you see fit.
It also allows you consistency in your marketing and brand safety, giving you the control necessary to create gainful brand recognition.
A final word…
At the end of the day, registering your trade mark can only benefit your business and protects it from competitors in numerous ways. As Herbert Hoover said, “Competition is not only the basis of protection to the consumer but is the incentive to progress.”
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Maggie Yarak, Principal Solicitor
YLP – Your Legal Partner
Maggie is an experienced corporate and commercial lawyer with over 18 years PAE. Her expertise includes intellectual property, wills and estates, property, contracts, franchising, corporate and commercial law as well as team management, commercial litigation, teaching, lecturing and legal training.
Maggie is a mother to two young boys with high functioning autism, a wife and an avid Adelaide Crows supporter. Being a professional mother coupled with the challenges of raising children with disability, has defined Maggie’s purpose in life, which is to help people navigate life’s journey and in particular, empower women to take advantage of every opportunity, despite the challenges they may face in life.
Maggie owns her own private practice law firm utilising her large range of experience and skills focusing on commercial law, estates, insolvency, debt recovery and dispute resolution. Maggie worked as a General Counsel for nearly 4 years and thrives on management, advising on strategic direction, providing a high level of communication, collaboration, consultation, negotiation and networking across various levels of industry and government sectors. Maggie also worked as a Contracts and Commercial Manager for Cobham Aviation Services looking after the entire regional portfolio to expand her skills and expertise to commercial and legal roles.