8 Reasons to register your trade mark
Did you know that simply registering a company or business name DOES NOT give you full proprietary rights to the name?
And did you know that someone else can register your brand as a trademark in certain countries, and then “squat” on it until you cough up for the rights?
Having a brand and selling products or services under that brand can automatically give you some trademark rights. These are known as “unregistered trademark rights.”
But there’s a catch: unregistered trademark rights have limits compared to the rights of a registered trademark.
Here are 8 reasons to register your trademarks:
- The most efficient rights
Registering a trademark is the quickest and most cost-effective way to ensure legal exclusivity over a brand. When you get trademark registration it’s like getting a “certificate of title” for the brand. It massively reduces the risk of being stopped from using YOUR brand, name or logo by other traders.
- Better geographical coverage
Unregistered trademark rights only extend to places where you can demonstrate the reputation of the trademark. This means, places where there is market awareness of your business or brand. However, registered trademarks give you legal rights throughout a particular country (such as Australia). Registration also allows you to prevent others from using your trademark in markets where you have not yet used your trademark (i.e. where you can’t demonstrate unregistered rights).
- Beat Trademark Squatters
Unlike Australia, there are a number of countries that grant trademark rights to the first party to file an application for registration, even if SOMEONE ELSE has already been using the trademark in that market. This system allows opportunistic behaviour by third parties (“trademark squatters”) who register another party’s trademark and then try to sell the registration back to the true owner. Sometimes it’s possible to recover a trademark from a squatter but the process is generally expensive and time consuming, and the outcome uncertain. Countries that operate on a first-to-file system include (but are not limited to) the Philippines, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand, China, Japan, Germany, Spain and France.
- Deter copycats and wannabes
A registered trademark is the best deterrent to others considering using a trademark similar or identical to yours to sell products or services like yours. Consider these facts:
- The ® symbol is only used for identifying registered trademarks, and clearly notifies others of your rights.
- Those considering a new brand can easily find an identical or similar brand if it’s a registered trademark, simply by searching the official register of trademarks. This reduces the likelihood that a third party will choose to use a conflicting mark in the first place.
- Registered trademarks are a clear obstacle to others seeking to register a conflicting trademark. All new applications for registration are assessed against the trademarks already on the register. Existing registered trademarks can be significant obstacles to others trying to register conflicting trademarks. On the other hand, it’s unusual for examiners to rely on unregistered trademarks to refuse an application for registration.
- Faster, cheaper enforcement
If someone else uses a conflicting mark, it’s generally easier, quicker and cheaper to enforce a registered trademark than an unregistered trademark. Registering a trademark establishes “prima facie” ownership, whereas the burden of proof falls on you if it’s an unregistered trademark. The first step in the process is always providing evidence that the unregistered rights actually exist, which can be hard work, not to mention costly.
- Freedom to Operate
The Australian Trade Marks Act 1995 provides that a person does not infringe (another) registered mark when they exercise a right given to them under the Act (i.e. use their own registered trademark). This gives the owner of a registered trademark a defence against accusations of infringement of another registered trademark.
- Streamlined commercialisation
Registered trademarks can be more simply and effectively licensed for use by third parties (such as franchisees and distributors).
- Upsized brand value
All these advantages of owning a registered trademark can significantly increase the perceived value of a brand to other parties. This enhances value when you sell or license the trademark, compared with an unregistered trademark.
O’Sullivans offers a free trademark search service - request a search via our website today!