Cowra Guardian

The art of protecting your brand: Insights from top trademark attorneys

Securing your brand's trade mark rights is the mark of a smart business owner. Picture Shutterstock
Securing your brand's trade mark rights is the mark of a smart business owner. Picture Shutterstock

This is branded content.

If you're a business owner or entrepreneur, chances are you've spent countless hours and untold amounts of effort to get your brand up and running. The last thing you want is to see someone else profiting off your success and damaging your reputation in the process.

From selling inferior products and services under your exact branding or making deceptively small changes designed to deceive consumers, copying and IP infringements can cause significant damage to your business.

So how do you go about protecting your rights and ensuring you're in the best position to defend them? The answer lies in the humble trade mark.

So much more than a symbol...

While many of us are familiar with the ™ or ® symbol attached to a brand name, logo, phrase, product name or service, exactly what these mean may be less clear.

Where ™ indicates an unregistered trade mark or one that is currently being processed, ® demonstrates that this registration has already been completed.

Both serve to inform that the legal rights and ownership of this intellectual property (IP) have been declared and are protected under Australian IP legislation. Having a registered trade mark means that you hold exclusive rights to this branding and can force others to stop using it. While having an unregistered trade mark may provide you with some rights, your rights may be difficult to prove and expensive to enforce. A registered trade mark therefore offers much better protection.

With serious legal consequences enforced in cases of trade mark infringement, including hefty fines and jail time, this little symbol acts as a strong deterrent to copycats.

Why brand visibility simply isn't enough

It is tempting to think that once your brand is established and well-known, issues relating to the defence of your IP will be easier to resolve. While this can be true in some instances, citing formal registration of a trade mark as proof of ownership can make this process much easier and less expensive.

Instead of having to gather proof and go through an expensive and time-consuming court process, your rights are clear and ownership unequivocal.

This is why, no matter the age of your business it is wise to invest in trade marking all IP related to your brand.

"It is far better to take a proactive approach to protecting your band through early registration of any trade marks than find yourself in a battle to prove ownership down the line."

An inexpensive solution to an increasingly prevalent issue

Many businesses put off registering their trade marks in the belief that it is an expensive and lengthy process.

However, in Australia, the government fees for registering a trade mark starts from just $250.

When you consider the potential loss of revenue from infringement on your brand's trade mark and any legal costs associated with fighting this misuse, this is a small price to pay.

With instances of fraudulent behaviour on the rise and counterfeit products consistently flooding the market, it is not a matter of if you will experience these issues, but when.

If you're short on time or find the paperwork too confusing, don't let this keep you from pursuing a trade mark. Outsource to a professional trade mark attorney and let them handle the details for you.

Build value and be confident in your position

Spending the time and money necessary to secure your brand's trade mark rights is not only the mark of a smart business owner but a savvy one.

You're best positioned to protect your brand while also adding to the value of your business. Each trade mark you hold as a successful business is counted among your assets and contributes to your overall worth.

It also allows you to license your IP, can help you attract investors, and may even be used as collateral against business loans.

If you're yet to secure your trade mark and protect your brand, this is your sign to move that job to the top of your to-do list.