Why you need to register your trade mark

A trade mark is a unique sign, word, or mark which is used to distinguish your goods and services from that of others. Once registered under the Trade Marks Act 1995, a trade mark cannot be used by anyone else without the owner’s express consent.

You do not have to register your trade mark in order to use it. However if you do not, it is much harder to stop someone else from using it, and another entity may register the mark instead, and you may have to defend possible trade mark infringement allegations.

To register your trade mark, you must intend to use it, and you will need to ensure that your trade mark does not conflict with any existing trade marks and it adheres to the law. For example, the mark should not contain any offensive or prohibited material such as the Olympic rings.

Once confident your trade mark is registerable, you can submit your trade mark application to IP Australia who determines whether to register it or not, and reverts back to you with its decision. The decision can be reviewed if it goes against you and third parties also get the opportunity to oppose registration of the mark.

Depending on the intended use of the trade mark, it may be prudent to also apply for overseas protection of your trade mark. There are international treaties to facilitate this.

Once registered, you, and persons authorised by you, have the exclusive right to use your trade mark in accordance with the purpose for which it was registered. You will also be free to sell your trade mark and you will be able to prevent others from using your trade mark to promote their goods and services.

Upon registration of your trade mark you receive ownership rights for 10 years, and this is renewable for successive periods of 10 years upon payment of a fee. You will need to ensure that you use your trade mark though, as failure to do so could result in the trade mark being removed on the grounds of non-use.