If you’re in business, chances are you have (or should have) at least one trade mark. A trade mark is any sign that you use to distinguish your products or services from those of your competitors. This could be a:
- sound; or
- combination of these.
Trade marks are a vital commercial asset that add value through brand recognition. This article will discuss seven advantages of trademark registration.
Offers Exclusivity and National Protection
Once you register your trade mark, no one else in Australia can commercially use your trade mark for similar products or services as those you offer.
Once registered, you may use your trademark indefinitely provided that you renew your trade mark registration every 10 years. If you do not use your trade mark for a consecutive period of three years, you may lose your right of exclusivity.
Is a New Asset
When you register a trademark, you are creating an independent, saleable asset in the form of intangible intellectual property (IP). Though you cannot physically hold this asset, you can definitely add it to your balance sheet as part of your business’ goodwill. This is particularly beneficial when you’re looking to get investors on board or sell your business.
Creates an Additional Source of Income
Given that a trade mark is an independent asset, you can choose to make money off it it by licensing the use of your trade mark to other people. A licensing agreement is ideal as you will still retain ownership of the trade mark, but at the same time, give your brand greater market exposure, all while collecting licensing fees (royalties) from the licensee.
You can also sell your trade mark. You can separate a trade mark from your business’ goodwill. Therefore, you can sell the trade mark without having to sell your whole business.
Do note, however, that when selling your trade mark, you transfer all of your rights to the person or business you sell it to. Accordingly, you will no longer be entitled to use it unless you buy or license it back.
Gives You Ease of Enforceability
Once you have registered your trademark, you have the right to take action against others who infringe your rights. Generally speaking, infringement occurs if someone else, who has not registered their trade mark, starts using a mark that’s too similar to the one you have registered in connection with the same or similar goods or services.
You may still have enforceable rights if you don’t register your trademark. However, you will need to first establish that you are the rightful owner of the IP, adding an additional hurdle that can make enforcing your rights very difficult.
Acts As a Symbol of Reputation and Goodwill
Only registered trade marks can use the ® symbol. Once your trade mark is registered, placing the ® symbol immediately next it puts others on notice to respect your trade mark.
Most people are familiar with trademark symbols of ™ and ®. Being able to promote your business name or logo and use the ® symbol creates the impression in your customers’ minds that you are serious about your business and intend to be around for a while.
Helps With International Expansion
By registering your trademark in Australia, you are afforded a couple of benefits should you wish to also protect your mark overseas, such as the ability to utilise the Madrid Protocol for simple international protection process.
Establishing a strong and recognisable brand here through a trade mark will also ensure that your brand is already known to overseas customers when you’re ready to expand and register in international markets.
Prevent Parallel Imports
Goods imported and sold in a manner other than through official distribution channels are known as “parallel imports”, or sometimes “grey” or “direct” imports.
You can prevent products bearing your trade mark from being imported into Australia, even if the owner of the products has applied for the same trade mark outside of Australia without your consent. If you suspect your trade marked products are being imported into Australia without your authority, you can also lodge a notice of objection with the Australian Department of Home Affairs.
If the Department approves your notice of objection, customs temporarily stops the importation and distribution of the goods. You then have 10 business days to commence court proceedings to block the importation of goods permanently. If you do not begin action within the time frame, the product will become available again.
There are many benefits, both legal and commercial, to registering a trade mark. A registered trade mark:
- offers exclusivity and national protection;
- is a new asset;
- creates an additional source of income;
- gives you ease of enforceability;
- acts as a symbol of reputation and goodwill;
- helps with international expansion; and
- prevents parallel imports.
By registering a trade mark, you provide your business with a key marketing tool and valuable asset which will only propel the further growth and success of your brand.