Fancy a ridiculously amazing marketing tool for your brand so good that sets it apart from its competitors AND increases its reach AND prevents copycats?
Now, that would be the ultimate must-have amongst entrepreneurs, wouldn’t you agree?
The great news is that it is available for your business to use. It’s a trade mark. How simple. (In theory.)
Make yourself a cuppa and pull up a pew. In this blog, we explain why registering a trade mark will set your business up for success.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of why registering a trade mark will be beneficial for your business, here’s a quick lesson on trade marks!
What is a trade mark?
A way to distinguish one business’ unique set of goods and/or services from another business’.
What can my trade mark include?
Words/phrases, numbers, letters, packaging, colours, logos/images, shapes, sounds and scents.
Examples: the Maccas phrase “I’m lovin’ it”, the Nike tick or Cadbury Dairy Milk purple.
Why register a trade mark?
It gives you legal rights to use, sell or license the trade mark (more on that below).
It also allows you to take legal action against copycats who try to pass off your business’ goods and/or services as their own.
Isn’t registering a business or company name enough to give me exclusive rights over my business name?
Nope. No. Sorry. This won’t give you legal rights to your genius ideas, stop others from stealing them or producing similar ideas or stop you from being sued by others who say that you are using their ideas (when in fact, they are yours but they registered a trade mark over them first). You can read more about that here.
Now we have got that out of the way, how will your brand benefit from registering a trade mark?
Benefit 1: You have BIG plans for your business.
Just because you don’t see yourself opening up several franchises, diversifying your products or services, getting some investors on board or selling your business in the short term, it’s still a wise decision to protect your brand by registering a trade mark. The perfect formula for commercial success is to plan ahead!
When a business registers a trade mark, a set of legal rights come along with the registration that are useful for anyone who has HUGE goals for their business. These include:
- Using your trade mark in whichever way you see fit. For example, using marketing strategies to grow your business.
- Licensing your trade mark to other businesses. You can market or distribute your products to other manufacturers, distributors or franchisees to make further income and build brand exposure. It is harder to do this if you have an unregistered trade mark.
- Selling your trade mark. If you plan on selling your business, one of the first questions that you will be asked is what trade marks you have registered. You see, registering a trade mark shows that you are the owner of the brand, that you don’t cut corners and will eventually become part of the valuation of your business if you sell.
Benefit 2: It stops copycats in their tracks!
You’ve spent so much time and money on growing your business and establishing a good reputation. You wouldn’t like it if a nasty copycat business came in and used and marketed your logo, slogan and names for the products as their own without your consent. It would confuse your customers, sway them away from your business and potentially damage your business’ reputation.
Registering a trade mark will protect your brand against copycats as you will have the right to take legal action against them. It deters competitors from choosing the same or a similar trade mark. It also ensures that you have peace of mind while you are building your business as IP Australia makes sure that you are not copying another business’ trade marks by mistake.
Benefit 3: It tells consumers that you mean business!
Registering a trade mark will add credibility to your brand. It lets consumers and competitors know that you have faith in your business and that your brand is worth turning their attention to. Would you protect something that was not worth stealing? No. Take Apple, for example. If Apple did not trade mark its bitten apple symbol, what would have happened? Sneaky competitors would want to snag some of the profit that Apple has made from its revolutionary products. Not something you want for your business, hey?
Benefit 4: It averts legal issues down the track.
If another biz tries to steal or produce similar ideas to your business’ and you have registered a trade mark over them, you can take immediate legal action under the Trade Marks Act 1995.
However - if you have an unregistered trade mark - the process is a lot more tricky as you need to take action under section 18 of the Australian Consumer Law. This will require you to prove that “passing off” occurred (i.e. another business has stolen or imitated your business’ stuff). To do this, you will need to prove how your brand owns the trade mark, how the sneaky person damaged your business’ reputation/goodwill and how the defendant committed deceptive conduct. As you can see, it’s a lot harder to protect your business’ ideas if you do not register a trade mark.
Also, not registering your trade mark will leave your business exposed to legal action from competitors who do register trade marks over words/phrases, shapes, sounds and so forth. If that does happen, you could face having to alter your brand’s identity, waste time changing your marketing campaigns and spend money on unnecessary legal fees that you could have avoided if you had registered a trade mark in the first place.
Benefit 5: It makes your biz stand out from the crowd!
You’re probably wondering how a piece of intellectual property will help your business look more appealing than those of your competitors. Well - once your trade mark is registered with IP Australia - you can include the symbol ® on your website, products and marketing material.
This little detail will create a point of difference from your competitors and show your customers that your brand does things properly. As a result, this may obtain customer loyalty, boost your sales, add sophistication to your brand and give your brand a sense of legitimacy in the marketplace. Think of Vegemite and its trade marked “Happy Little Vegemites” tune. This jingle is trade marked and resonates with so many across this beautiful brown land.
Friends, registering a trade mark will protect your brand and give you the right to control it. It makes total sense since you have invested so much of your money and time into building your business.
If you want to get the trade mark started and don’t know where to begin, chat to us. Also, check out this golden nugget Tricks of the Trade Mark if you want to make your mark in the business world.
Riz McDonald is an e-commerce business owner, business coach, podcaster and a lawyer for over 16 years. She’s also a mum and a lover of good wine...she only ever drinks the cheap stuff when she’s stoney broke.
***Disclaimer. Please read!!***
This article is for general information purposes only and should be used solely as general guidance. It does not and is not intended to represent legal advice or other professional advice.
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