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I want to register a trademark – how can I check that my name or logo isn’t already taken?

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If you’re starting out in business, you’ll have a bright and sparkly new idea for a venture or way of doing business. You’ll know that having a brand name or logo that is equally as bright and sparkly is just as important as having your concept developed into a scalable business model and something you can take to the market. Your brand name or logo is the ‘face’ of your business and you’ll be talking about it a lot. It will be on your business cards, and needs to stick like glue in peoples’ minds, so it needs to roll off the tongue like sugar.

Once you have that name – congratulations but the hard work isn’t over. To make sure you secure the only right to use that name, you need to register it as a trademark. The ‘hard work’ in registering a trademark is checking to determine whether someone hasn’t already registered a name or logo that may prevent yours being registered.

At this point, the Australian Trade Marks Online Search System (ATMOSS) can be a very helpful tool. IP Australia is the government body that assesses and registers trademarks after a successful application has been made. Successfully registered trademarks are kept in a register and ATMOSS is IP Australia’s search portal, allowing you to check whether a name that you’re interested in hasn’t already been taken.

Why use ATMOSS?

ATMOSS allows you to search for pending registrations (that is, applications that have been made to register a name) and registered trademarks. By searching ATMOSS, you can find out whether a name you’re interested in has been registered, allowing you to understand whether it would be possible to trademark a name or logo.

What do I need to consider when searching ATMOSS?

To understand whether it is possible for you to register a name or logo, you need to search ATMOSS to see whether there is a trademark already registered that is identical or similar to your own.

The effect of section 44 of the Trademarks Act 1995 (Cth) is that another trademark can be an obstacle to the registration of a trademark if all the following apply:

  • the trademark is identical or substantively similar to a proposed name;
  • the trademark covers goods and services that are similar or closely related;
  • the trademark has an earlier filing date than the application you might file.

When you search ATMOSS, you need to search for trademarks that might conflict with your own name or logo due to the factors outlined above.

So if you are interested in registering the word ‘pearl’, for example, you need to do more than just search for whether the exact word ‘pearl’ has been trademarked. You would need to search for words that are similar to ‘pearl’, such as ‘purl’, ‘perl’ or ‘pearle’. You may even need to search for whether an image of a pearl has been registered as this could pose a barrier to the registration of the word ‘pearl’.

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In summary, the purpose of searching ATMOSS is to make sure you have the best chance of success when applying to have your name or logo registered. If a name is already registered and it is too similar to your proposed name, IP Australia may refuse to register it. Given the importance of your brand to your business, ATMOSS is a crucial step in securing the brand you need. If you need assistance from our IP lawyers, get in touch on 1300 544 755 today!

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