There are lots of websites that complicate this answer, so we are going to cut to the chase and explain how to easily register a trademark in Australia and if required, Trademark worldwide in a few simple steps.
Why Trademark? – Because it offers far more protection for your brand and business name than a company registration or business name registration. Legal eagles will tell you the trademark holder pretty much trumps all other forms of registration and the age old “possession is 9/10ths of the law” holds up, because it is a costly process to prove otherwise.
1. Think Smart.
Your brand and logo are important and if you have one already that you are passionate about, we hope it isn’t registered. If it isn’t, consider carefully; Is it worth potentially not owning your own trademark or fighting an existing trademark OR… is it time to rename the brand, company, logo into something you can own outright and confidently move forward with?
2. Are you registering a logo, word, or both?
If it is a logo, have a high resolution JPEG (at least 600 pixels in width or length) ready for the trademark registration process. If it is just a word you are trademarking, then this step is not required. Note – if you are planning to register both a word and a logo, you will obviously still need to submit the logo. If your logo is basically just text in a nice typeface, consider this trick we learned from legal many moons ago; put a box around it (examples below). Why do this? It makes your typeface look like a finished logo. Otherwise submit for the word version first.
2. What Class?
In Australia there are 45 Classes of Goods and Services. Your Trademark will need to be filed in one or more of these classes. You can find these classes here and search the database at the same time for keywords you think are relevant.
3. Pre-Registration and Searching.
Search here and be ruthless. If your name or trademark appears in any search you have 3 options in our preferred order. (a) Change your brand name, (b) Try and register for a different class (point 2) than the existing trademark OR (c) If your un-registered trademark has been used well before someone else’s trademark was approved, consider legal advice. In our opinion only (a) is worth pursuing, possibly (b).
You may, however also like to spend (or waste) extra time and money and get the government or trademark specialist to do a search for you to check if the trademark is suitable for registration and advise. Take a look at TM Headstart or Google Trademark Registration Assistance.
4. Online Registration
Trademark Registration is simple; Go through the process online using this direct link** by clicking new application on the left. Once registered, the Trademark office will be in touch with your acceptance and notice periods. Good Luck! ** PLEASE NOTE: as of Mid 2014, the process has changed and you now need an eServices Login before you can register a trademark – so a little more tricky but still possible direct. Once you have signed into eServices (which basically just remembers your details), you should choose Register a Trademark directly (note: not TM HeadStart if you want to skip this process).
5. International Trademarks.
Although the above outlines the process for the Australian market, if your business has potential in international markets, you need to consider these steps now and protect your brand. For international Trademark Registration, we advise using the Madrid System. You can do this yourself or because the forms are a little more complex, you don’t need to pay a lot more to have a reasonable legal firm apply on your behalf.
If you need assistance, or have questions, feel free to ask us. We do note this page is not to be used as legal advice, we are only trying to simplify the process if you would like to complete the application yourself. Seek advice from a trademark specialist or your lawyer otherwise.