Considered to be the visual representation of the company and encapsulating the positive perceptions and value of goodwill developed over years of successful operation, a trademark is, in many cases, one of the most effective marketing tools for a business. Registering your trademark in Australia is not only essential for businesses based in the country, but for those international businesses that are contemplating expansion into the Australian market; perhaps even more important, as there have been occasions where international companies who have ventured to the shores of Australia to conduct their business have found themselves in violation of trademark and copyright laws due to a business in Australia having registered the name.
Trademark registration under the Australian Trade Marks Act 1995 ensures that your brand is protected against copying or misuse by other individuals and organisations. According to the Australian Trade Marks Act, a trademark is defined as ‘a sign used or intended to be used to distinguish goods or services dealt with or provided in the course of trade’. The Act goes further to stipulate that the mark itself can include logos, shapes, fonts, colours, images, smells, numbers, words and phrases; or a combination of any of the aforementioned.
To be eligible to register a trademark in Australia, the applicant must have intentions of utilising it in the course of business and trade. The rights bestowed to those who have their trademark registration approved include the sole right to utilise the mark for the specified goods and/or services contained in the application; the ability to authorise the use of the mark to other individuals and business for the purpose of trading in the goods and/or services listed in the registration; the right to sell the trademark, and perhaps most importantly; prevent the unauthorised use of the trademark.
The process of application in Australia is fairly straight forward, with a set of stages to pass through to ensure acceptance. Firstly, there should be a thorough search of existing trademarks to ensure that the current mark, or one in development, does not contain characteristics of existing trademarks. At this stage, it is highly recommended that you seek advice from experienced consultants who specialise in trademark registration in Australia who are familiar with the idiosyncrasies of the relevant law and application process. It is worth noting that trademark applications are inspected in order of their time of filing, with an expected turnaround time of several months. Specialist trademark agencies will be able to provide information in how to best approach the application process, along with ways in how to speed up the process.