natalia-blecher

Why Should I Register My Trademark?

A guide for allied health business owners 
You acquire some rights in your brand simply by using it. But your rights will be broader and deeper with a registered trademark. Tali Blecher, IP Lawyer and Director at By George Legal explains why. 


But I have a domain name/business name…
  
This is a common misconception. Registered trademark are totally different from business names and domain names.  

A business name is a regulatory requirement of ASIC. You need one whenever you trade under a name that’s not your full company name. And you need a domain name to operate a website.  

Crazily enough, holding a business name or domain name doesn’t mean you’re free to use it. You can infringe someone else’s rights even if you’ve registered the corresponding business and domain name. 


Example
 
You register Power Up as a business name for your new allied health business. You also register the domain name powerupOT.com.au. You invest in creating a website and signage for your business. A Sydney clinic that has been trading since 2010 as Power Up Sydney finds out about your business via Instagram. It turns out that it owns the “Power Up” registered trademark, It relies on that registration to stop you trading as Power Up. You’re forced to rebrand. 

 

Only a registered trademark gives you proper protection around, and ownership of, your brand. Now we explain some additional advantages to registering your brand as a trademark. 

  

Avoiding nasty surprises 
While your brand is unregistered, there is a risk that a competitor might register it or something similar. They might then use their registration to try and stop you from executing your business plans.    

Once you’re established yourself under a particular brand, you’ve established equity in that brand and it becomes costly and embarrassing to rebrand. With a trademark registration, you get an automatic defence to TM infringement (meaning you can’t infringe someone else’s registration). This helps you manage uncertainty and the risk of being forced to rebrand down the line.


A weapon against imitators
Trademark registrations aren’t just there to protect you. They can also be used against infringers. Parties who use your brand without consent can damage your reputation. This can affect your bottom line. If you’ve registered your brand and a competitor adopts something similar, it’s usually going to be straightforward to stop them. By registering your trademark, you’re ringfencing your rights.    


The deterrent effect
 
A registered trademark gives you the exclusive right to use your brand. You’re the only one in Australia who can use your brand for your registered products or services. If a competitor adopts a brand that’s confusingly similar to yours, you can use your registration to stop them.

While your trademark is unregistered, it can be hard for others to know it exists. But once you’ve filed a trademark application, your rights appear on IP Australia’s public database. Parties searching that database will see your mark and (usually) think twice before adopting something similar.   


Broader geographic coverage
 
If your trademark is unregistered, you only have rights in areas where you have established a reputation (usually through direct trade). A registered trade mark gives you national protection.     


Controlling licensees
 
You might allow other parties, like business partners, franchisees and even online content creators, to use your brand. Licensing arrangements are always safer and easier if you’ve got a registered trademark squared away.   


A more legit IP right
 
Registered rights are taken more seriously than unregistered rights. Owners of registered trademarks have an easier time getting platforms like Google, Facebook and Instagram, domain name hosts and Australian Customs to cooperate. Because those platforms and authorities can verify your ownership of a registered TM and understand the scope of your rights in a few clicks, they usually pounce on complaints faster than if you were to rely on use-based rights.  


Enhancing the value of your business
 
For all of the above reasons, potential investors are usually interested in whether a business has registrations for its key brands (names, logos and taglines). A registered trademark doesn’t just prove that you own your brand; it also enhances its perceived value in any investment, sale, merger or franchising arrangement.   


Need help?

Contact By George Legal by emailing tali@bygeorgelegal.com.au or visiting www.bygeorgelegal.com.au