Published on Jan 16, 2018
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Identity theft for business… Protect your brand.
Identity theft can be easier than you think.
Did you know that registering your business name with Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) or purchasing a domain name does not give you the exclusive rights to use that name?
Is your business name worth something to you? Consider:
Q – What if someone else came along and started trading using your same or a similar business name?
Q- What if you are infringing on someone else’s registered trademark in your business?
Intellectual Property (IP) includes your brand, logos, web domains and social media handles.
Simply registering the business name and investing your money into owning IP does not necessarily protect your business from exclusively operating under that name.
Only registering IP as a trade mark will give you exclusive rights to use, licence or sell the mark.
Search trade marks:
Using search.ipaustralia.gov.au you can search to see if a business name is already a registered trade mark.
The search is a neat tool to check for trademarks and includes text based search as well as the option to upload a logo and search for trademarks based on the visual similarity of the images.
If your trading name or logo is already a registered trademark not owned by you, you would be breaking the law and could face legal action if you continue to use it. If it appears the existing trademark hasn’t been used, you may apply for removal of a trade mark for non-use.
If your IP is valuable to the operations of your business, then consider taking out the trade mark with IP Australia.
Did you know? A trade mark is not limited to being a corporate logo. It could also be a jingle, your registered business name painted on the side of your truck or even a scent.
Note: While a registered trade mark can protect the business name and branding elements on your website, it does not entitle you to a website domain name – be sure to go ahead and secure every domain URL variant you intend to use on the web!
Benefits of trade marking your IP:
- valuable marketing tool
- protect ongoing use of business name, brand, a letter, number, word, phrase, sound, smell, shape, logo, picture, movement, aspect of packaging, or combination of these
- protected within Australia for 10 years, with the option to renew
Only registered trade marks can carry the ® symbol. Once your trade mark is registered, placing the ® symbol immediately next to your brand puts others on notice to respect your trade mark.
Some businesses choose to add an unaffiliated TM (for trade mark) to product labels. Such unofficial trade marks have no registered IP protection.
QUICK SNAPSHOT SUMMARY:
A registered business name (also known as a trading name) is the name under which your business operates and is connected to your Australian Business Number (ABN). Your registered business name is managed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
A registered company name, commonly identified with a Proprietary Limited (Pty Ltd), is the name you used when registering a company as opposed to a business. Registered company names are also managed by ASIC, which has useful information on the difference between registered business names and registered company names.
A domain name is your address on the internet. It’s the way people find your business online. Domain names are registered on a first come first served basis. However there are rules and policies for registering domain names.
A trade mark gives their owner exclusive legal rights to use the trade mark throughout Australia. Unlike a business, company or domain name, a registered trade mark lets you take action against other businesses using names that are the same or misleadingly similar to your trade mark.
Download IP Australia’s infographic for the steps to consider to build your business, protect your brand. Visit the Australian Government’s business portal for information on building your business and protecting your brand.
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