Trademark Law FAQs
Q. What is a trademark?
A. Trademarks are signs, symbols, sounds, tastes, and other sensory cues which can be used to clearly distinguish the goods and services provided by one trader from those offered by others. The word ‘Qantas’ and the associated flying kangaroo logo are both examples of trademarks. Trademark law is probably the most important area of intellectual property law for businesses, as trademarks protect brands, which are vital to a business’s competitiveness.
Q. What is the benefit of registering a trademark?
A. Simply registering your business or company name in Australia does not protect your business’ identity or brand. Competitors can legally copy your business name, and even branding material, if they are not registered as trademarks. Trademark registration is inexpensive, and your trademark itself becomes more valuable the more brand recognition your business acquires.
Q. How do I register a trademark?
A. Trademarks are administered by IP Australia, the nation’s peak body for intellectual property. Applications can be made online; however, the application process can be difficult and is subject to many specific circumstances. There are intellectual property firms which offer trademark registration services. These firms are able to handle the application process on your behalf; this ensures that your trademark receives protection as quickly and efficiently as possible. Contact LGM Advisors today and let us manage the process today on (03) 9832 0608 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. What is the difference between a trademark and copyright?
A. Copyright protection is free and automatically applies to creative works. Creative works are often lengthy and elaborate creations compared to the relatively simple signs that trademarks usually are. Copyright applies to works such as books, films etc. Trademarks require application, registration, and payment, unlike copyright which requires none of these.
Q. How long does it take for a trademark to be registered and how long does it last?
A. It usually takes around 7 months for a trademark to be registered. Once registered, trademark rights last for 10 years with the added ability to renew. As long as the renewal process is carried out every 10 years, the trademark can be protected indefinitely.
Q. Do I need to use the trademark symbols?
A. If you have a distinctive sign, symbol, or other that you use to identify your brand but it is not registered as a trademark, you should place the ‘™’ nearby. This demonstrates that you use that sign as a key part of your brand, and warns competitors not to use it. Once you register it as a trademark, you may use the ® symbol alongside your trademark to show that it is registered and protected under law. Under the Trade Marks Act 1995 it is illegal to use the ® symbol unless it is being used alongside a registered trademark.
Q. Can two or more parties share ownership of the same trademark?
A. Yes, so long as they use the trademark in relation to different categories of goods or services. For example, the trademarked word ‘Pulsar’ is used by both Nissan and Seiko. One uses it for motor vehicles, the other for watches, so there is unlikely to be any brand confusion.