From online marketplaces to microfinance platforms, there are various types of online businesses that go live every day. The most popular types of online businesses include those that sell goods or services online, offer directory services online or create an online marketplace where buyers and sellers can meet. While they are easy to set up, the nature of online businesses means it is relatively easy for other business owners to copy your brand or imitate your business concept. Registering a trade mark can be one of the most important steps in protecting your business when trading online.

Trade Marks for Online Business

To register a trade mark for your online business, you must first consider the nature of your online business and identify what your products or services are and how to classify them. A trade mark application with IP Australia will require you to nominate the goods or services that your trade mark will be used. You will also have to identify which classes your goods or services belong.

Deciding what to specify in your application and knowing which classes they belong to can be quite confusing. Furthermore, most online businesses would have to nominate more than one class in their application due to the nature of their business. For example, if you are providing an online marketplace for wine distributors and buyers, you might want to seek protection for the use of your trade mark on a number of different classes. This includes alcoholic beverages (except beers) in class 33, beers in class 32, the provision of an online marketplace for buyers and sellers of goods and services in class 35. Moreover, if you have developed a non-downloadable tool for this business, then you may also need to claim for online provision of web-based software or applications (non-downloadable) in class 42.

Each online business has its unique service offering. While it may seem obvious to trade mark your business name and logo, you should also consider nominating multiple classes to ensure your business is fully protected.

Trade Marks for Startups

Many startups operate as online businesses. As such, the same online business considerations need to be taken into account when registering a trade mark for a startup. For many startup founders, their brand name and logo are often trademarked first. If you have sophisticated intellectual property assets, you should also consider protecting your trade secrets and patents.

When choosing which trade mark to apply for, you must keep in mind that the Trade Marks Act provides that trade marks satisfy certain requirements to be registered. Familiarising yourself with how your trade mark will be assessed can be the difference between choosing a trade mark that will get through examination in 7.5 months (the quickest time a trade mark can be registered) or a trade mark that has no chance of being registered.

LegalVision’s online business lawyers can assist you with registering your trade mark for your online business or startup. If you have any questions, contact us on 1300 544 755.

Anthony Lieu

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