If you have successfully registered your trade mark, then you have finally crossed what can be a very challenging hurdle. You now have the exclusive right to use it and stop others from using anything similar. However, you also have the responsibility of preserving your mark to ensure that it remains protected. This article sets out five tips that will help you maintain your trade mark.
1. Display the ® Symbol
You may have noticed that some signs or logos have a ™ symbol next to them and others have a ® symbol. The difference between the two is that the:
- ™ symbol indicates that you have a pending or unregistered trade mark; and
- ® symbol indicates that your trade mark has been officially registered with IP Australia.
Therefore, once your trade mark is registered, it is essential to display the ® symbol next to the mark. This indicates that you have the exclusive right to use, license and sell your trade mark. Accordingly, this can help deter others from violating those rights and will ultimately help you maintain your trade mark.
2. Keep Your Contact Details Up to Date
It is important to keep your contact details up to date, especially your address, so that IP Australia can inform you of any crucial information regarding your trade mark. For example, IP Australia will send you a letter when it is time to renew your trade mark (after ten years of registration).
Therefore, if you do not update your address, you risk not receiving this communication and subsequently losing trade mark protection.
To change or update your details, you will need to submit the request through online services or via post.
3. Monitor the Use of Your Trade Mark
Monitor the way your customers and target audience use your mark to ensure that it continues to be regarded as a trade mark. If your trade mark becomes a generic name or a descriptive term for your goods and/or services, a third party could apply to court to have your registration removed.
4. Monitor Your Competitors
It is important to be aware that IP Australia is not responsible for monitoring infringers of your trade mark. As the trade mark owner, you have the responsibility to monitor your competitors and enforce your trade mark if you think that someone exploited your ideas. You may consider developing a strategy to prevent potential infringement issues and maintain your trade mark, including:
- keeping all documents relating to your trade mark ownership;
- using watermarks or passwords on your trade marks; and
- regularly monitoring the activity of your competitors.
If you think that someone is infringing or has infringed on your trade mark, we recommend seeking advice on your options to deal with the infringement.
5. Ensure That You Use Your Trade Mark
Lastly, you need to ensure that you are actively using your trade mark when trading. This could be:
- in advertising;
- on your packaging; or
- on your website and social media pages.
Active use is important because if you do not use your trade mark for three years or more, a third party can apply to IP Australia to have your trade mark removed as a result of non-use. This is to prevent traders from registering several trade marks merely to stop others from using them. While there is an opportunity to oppose a removal application, this can be a timely and costly process.
After successfully registering a trade mark, you now have the responsibility to use and maintain your trade mark so that it remains protected. You can do this by:
- displaying the ® symbol alongside your trade mark;
- keeping your contact details up to date to ensure that you receive any important information;
- monitoring your customers’ use of your trade mark to ensure that it has not become generic;
- monitoring your competitors to ensure that no one is or has infringed on your trade mark; and
- actively using your trade mark when trading.
If you have any questions, contact LegalVision’s trade mark lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.
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