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Protect your brand

06 July 2023 | By business.gov.au

Do you have a trade mark for your business or brand? 48% of small businesses have to rebrand due to contested trade mark infringement, with the average rebrand costing more than $100,000. Check out this information on trade marks to learn more about protecting your brand.

What is a trade mark?

A trade mark is a way of identifying a unique product or service such as a business name or logo. Learn more about a trade marks, what you need to do before you register and how long protection lasts.

A registered trade mark is a type of intellectual property (IP) right that protects a business’s unique brand, products or services.

It can protect a:

  • word
  • phrase
  • logo
  • letter
  • number
  • symbol
  • sound
  • shape
  • image
  • scent.

A registered trade mark provides legal rights to place the ® symbol next to your trade mark, and exclusive rights to use your trade mark in Australia.

A trade mark is not the same thing as a company name, business name or domain name.

Benefits of a trade mark

Registering your trade mark gives your business:

  • Exclusivity: exclusive rights to use the trade mark in Australia. This means no one else in Australia can commercially use your trade mark for the same goods or services you have it registered for.
  • Protection: the ability to legally deter others from using your trade mark for similar goods and services.
  • Value: the ability to sell your trade mark, or license it for others to use. This is a powerful tool for when you create agreements with producers, distributors, sellers or contractors. The more successful your business becomes, the more valuable your trade mark becomes.

What can’t be registered as a trade mark?

IP Australia can’t accept trade mark applications for everyday words, phrases or images that directly describe a good or service. These should remain available for all businesses to use. There are also certain words, phrases and images that can’t be trade marked, or can only be registered under special circumstances. These include:

  • common words, phrases and images
  • geographical names
  • common surnames, even if they’re your own
  • prohibited signs
  • restricted financial terms.

Check if your trade mark is available

Before applying for a trade mark, you should do a search to make sure the trade mark you want isn’t already registered.

IP Australia’s free trade mark checker tool gives you an indication of existing trade marks that might be similar to your proposed brand or name. From there you can apply to register your trade mark.

How long does protection last?

A trade mark is protected in all Australian states and territories for an initial period of 10 years. It can then be renewed every ten years, for a fee. You can renew your trade mark registration 12 months before the renewal date or up to 6 months after.

If you renew after the due date you may have to pay a late fee.

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