Trademarking a Logo
Are you thinking about Trademarking a Logo? The most successful businesses have the most memorable, distinguishable trademarks. List all of the businesses that you recognise by simple words, shapes, colours, phrases, sounds, images, letters, or numbers? There are plenty of companies that are so well-established by their registered trademarks that we can recognise them in simple symbols, words, or pictures. Think of Macdonald’s golden arches; Cadbury’s signature purple; the colour palette of Google’s logo; the simple monogram of Chanel perfume; the plump Telstra ‘T’; all of these are simple, yet unique and effective trademarks.
These important, intangible elements of property contribute hugely to the equity of each brand. You can secure your logo with trademark registration. Trademark registration on a logo grants you the exclusive right to use your mark and enforce your rights. Rights associated with trademarking a Logo are enforceable under Australian intellectual property law: marks themselves are used to distinguish your goods and services from those of the competition. Trademark registration is the only sure way to protect your business from infringement on your brand equity.
Bear in mind that as your business grows, your trademark becomes all the more vulnerable. To trademark a logo is increasingly important: it is essential that you protect your brand reputation and business goodwill. Trademark registration grants you a host of rights that you cannot gain otherwise:
- The exclusive right to distinguish your goods, services, and business with a registered trademark
- The exclusive right to license your trademark to other traders
- The exclusive right to sell your mark as intellectual property
- The exclusive right to protect your mark against infringers on a national scale
- The exclusive right to prevent other traders from using your mark or a similar mark on the same goods and services covered by your registration
Trademarking a Logo: Which Elements are Protected?
There are a huge range of brand elements that can be protected by trademark law. You can trademark words, logos, images, letters, numbers, and more obscure items such as sounds, shapes, scents, colours, movements, and plants. You can find a full list of registrable intellectual properties on the IP Australia website. This site will also assist you throughout the process of trademarking a logo.
Logo Trademark Application Process
Before you submit your trademarking a logo application, you need to determine whether or not your logo is eligible for trademark registration. You should ensure that you:
- Are intending to use your mark in relation to the specific classes of goods and services nominated in your application
- Are in individual trader, company, or incorporated association, or some combination of these three
- Apply for registration as an individual (as in, you should apply as the business owner, and not under the business name)
- Take steps to confirm that your trademark is not infringe on other marks within your industry or similar industries
To ensure that your mark is truly unique and distinguishable, and therefore eligible for registration, you will need to perform a trademark search. This is a search of Australian trademark databases, as well as common law references such as the Internet, phone books, business directories, and trade magazines. Your search must unearth marks that are similar in singular elements: even small similarities could mean that you are infringing on another trader’s mark. If you find similar marks during your trademark search, you will need to rethink your logo design.
Quick Off the Mark offers to conduct a comprehensive trademark search on your behalf at no cost. Talk to our trademark professionals for further information.
There are a number of items that cannot be used as trademarks under Australian trademark law. These include:
- Arbitrary or generic marks, particularly those that purely describe the kind, quality, purpose, or value of the goods and services. For instance, you could not secure VACUUM as a trademark for a business selling vacuums.
- Common surnames or geographical names: for instance, BRISBANE and SMITH cannot be registered as trademarks
- Marks that conflict with previously registered marks
- Marks that are misleading about the nature or type of the products and services
Should you apply to register any of these prohibited marks, your application would be promptly rejected. Individuality and distinguishability are keys to trademarking a logo.
A trademark professional can assist you in determining whether or not your logo is suitable for registration, as well as the completion and filing of your application. You can instruct a trademark professional to assist you throughout the entire registration process.
Once your application has been filed, it will be examined by IP Australia. This examination will result in either a letter of acceptance, or an adverse notice.
An adverse notice is a letter detailing the grounds for rejection of your mark. This is issued if your examiner finds fault or illegality in your trademark application. Adverse notices can be contested or remedied: if you receive an adverse notice, it does not mean that your application has failed. You must respond to an adverse notice within a set period of time or your application will cease.
After you receive a letter of acceptance or once your adverse notice has been cleared, your application will undergo a period of opposition. This three-month period allows other traders to contest your registration on the basis of infringement or unfair competition.
Once you have passed through the opposition period without instance, you will have to pay the final registration fee and your Certificate of Registration will be issued. Your logo is then protected under Australian trademark law.
Getting trademark registration on a logo can be a long, difficult process: consult a trademark professional for advice or to ease the registration process. Before you attempt to register your logo, ensure that your application is unique and relevant to your intended products and services. Ensure, too, that your mark is not conflicting with other existing marks.