Protecting Your Branding Innovation using Registered Trademarks
Brands are indispensable to commerce.
As a business owner, brand is your identity, reputation, personality, and experience. Year on year, you want to anchor all the positive associations people have about your business in your brand.
A lot of business will have a great deal of their goodwill tied up in their brand and reputation. Alarmingly, many business owners give very little attention to safeguarding the identity of that brand and reputation until something goes wrong.
Branding a new business can be an agonising proposition. A lot of time can go into just selecting a name, the finer details put in the 'too hard basket'.
You have to select something that will resonate with your ideal audience, allow you to connect with the market, and will suit your immediate and future needs, as well as work in overseas markets.
There are three important and inter-connected considerations when adopting a new brand: identity, ownership and registrability.
Illustrated : the three key requirements for whether or not a brand can be registered as a trademark
Research the trademark registration process
At the outset it pays to get a basic appreciation of what’s involved in the trademark registration process, as well as working through the commercial outcomes you're seeking, what countries you wish to cover in order of priority, and research and budget projected expenses and timing.
Approach a trademarks professional
You will need assistance and advice to complete the process, so it is worthwhile reaching out early to get some advice as to you best first steps. Early advice will inform your own thinking.
Collate materials required for a trademark application
A trademark application involves selecting your trademark. For a graphical device or logo, this means a quality electronic file. Also, you need to select the goods and services for which you are selecting coverage. Coverage is by market segments according to a standardised classification system. Your trademark professional can assist you in this regard.
Do I need to do preliminary trademark searching?
A quick search is prudent (if not essential) as it will inform you whether or not a ‘knockout’ registration will defeat your own contemplated application. You will also be alerted you to any other third party registrations that might have otherwise forced you to rebrand if you had found out about them later.
Brief a trademarks professional
This is the time to formalise a strategy and start the trademark registration process. The technology to be patented should typically be nearing an advanced level of 'technology readiness' but ahead of commercial release. This ensures that only minor details (of minimal or no consequence) are likely to change prior to launch.
Registered Trademarks FAQ
Do I need a registered trademark?
Trademark registration is not essential for commercial success, but can help insulate against the loss of rights in your brand from challengers whop have accused superior rights. Patent protection when available can however provide differentiation and defendable advantage, which can be critical in some industries and commercial contexts.
How do I know if my brand is registrable?
Registration depends upon a trademark being not the same or similar to an existing registration, and sought for the same or similar products or services. Pre-filing searching can help discover the answer, as well as highlight potential infringement risks which could force you through a re-brand.
What are the legal rights given by a registered trademark?
Trademark registration confers legal rights to exclude others from using the registered trademark in connection with the specified products and services. These rights extends to use of deceptively similar trademarks, and for closely related products and services beyond your registration.
Is it necessary to use the ® symbol once I've registered my trademark?
No, it's not mandatory to use the ® symbol in connection with your registered trademark but it is recommended. This signals to the market and competitors that the trademark is proprietary to the owner. Before registration, there can be commercial and legal benefits to marking unregistered trademarks with the ™ symbol.
How much does a registered trademark cost?
Expenses associated with trademarking are predictable, and vary only if unforeseen difficulties or disputes arise. Overseas coverage, and the extent of coverage required will increase costs. Once granted, renewal fees apply at ten year intervals.
Is there a worldwide trademark protection?
Trademark registration rights are granted on a country-by-country basis, though there is an international framework available to reduce administrative and cost overhead quite significantly.
How long does it take to register a trademark?
You can at times expedite a decision for conditional approval for a trademark. Grant of registration resulting in enforceable rights takes over six months at the very least. This time frame is to allow time to resolve any potential conflicting rights connected to earlier applications.
What alternatives are there to registered trademarks for protecting brands and reputation?
Some countries or states/provinces offer consumer protection laws and regulations that can protect against the misleading or deceptive conduct of other traders. As well as some protection for proven reputation or goodwill. Using such mechanisms tends to be far more uncertain and expensive than enforcement of registered trademark rights.