Should I Trade Mark My E-Commerce Business Name?

by LegalVision - Talia Admiraal

If you have developed an e-commerce business with a new and unique name, you should consider trade marking that name. A trade mark will grant you exclusive use of your brand name and ward off copycat competitors. Therefore, protecting your intellectual property (IP) in an online environment is critical for your business’ success. This article will discuss why trade marking your new business name is important, especially if you plan to grow your business.

Building Your Brand

You have undoubtedly spent a considerable amount of time, energy and money developing your new brand. As an e-commerce business, you interact with web users who will only see your branding online, not at a bricks and mortar store, and make buying decisions based on their perception of that branding.

In a competitive online space, you need to stand out from the crowd and provide customers with a point of difference.Your branding is central to your business and without adequate protection, others may exploit your hard work. A relatively easy method of protecting your brand is through trade mark registration.

Establishing a Reputation

Developing a good reputation can be difficult in the online space, as your customers need to trust you and the goods or services you provide without a face-to-face experience. You may promote your business across many platforms, including:

  • your website;
  • on social media; and
  • on marketplaces like eBay, Etsy or Amazon.

A strong reputation is an invaluable asset and also helps if you ever look to sell your business. Therefore, if your e-commerce business is expanding and gaining traction online, protecting your brand is vital.

If you register a trade mark in Australia, you have certain exclusive rights to use that mark. Following acceptance in Australia, you may also wish to register your marks internationally to ensure that you are protecting your brand in the markets you are selling and expanding into.

Third Party Requirements

Depending on how you operate your e-commerce business, you may sell through a third party, for example, Amazon. If you are selling your branded goods or services through a third party, it may require you to own the IP associated with the brand and therefore have a registered trade mark.

In any case, it is in your best interests to register a trade mark when a third party or reseller is promoting your goods or services through their own platform or social media channels. If you do not own the trade mark rights to your business name, the third party or reseller may also seek to acquire the rights. If you own the trade mark rights to your name, you can then prevent infringements of your mark.

Enforcement

Launching your online store and generating a legion of loyal customers is no easy feat. You work hard to build your reputation and grow your brand, and although imitation is flattery, you do not want someone else using or abusing your brand for their benefit.

If you come across another trader using your business name, it can be difficult to enforce your rights if you do not have a registered trade mark. If you register your business name as a trade mark and become aware of someone else using your mark, you can commence enforcement proceedings against them.

Avenues to pursue include:

  • sending cease and desist letters;
  • attempting to resolve the matter by agreement; or
  • commencing court proceedings.

Trade mark infringement can cost your business a lot, in terms of damage to your brand and also potential loss of market share if customers are confused between your goods or services and those of your competitor.

If you become aware of someone using your business name, it is important to enforce your rights against them. This is a much easier process if you own the appropriate trade marks.

Key Takeaways

Operating a new e-commerce business involves lots of hard work. Developing a brand and protecting it is vital for any e-commerce business, as you sell your wares on the internet with an enormous potential audience. Once you have developed a reputation and customers know who you are, protecting your branding becomes even more important. Third parties may seek to legitimately assist you in protecting your IP, while others may want to deceive your customers. With this in mind, as an e-commerce business owner, you should trade mark your business name to give yourself the best chance of success.



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