You’ve set up your business, you’re building a recognisable brand and you’ve registered your trade mark. How do you make sure that other companies aren’t using your trade mark? It’s an easy thing to forget until it’s too late and your competitor appears above you in Google searches. This article details three steps you can take to stay on top of any potential trade mark infringements.

1. Get Organised

Once registered on IP Australia, your trade marks are protected for 10 years. Because you won’t need all those application files that you worked so hard on for quite a while, it’s easy to leave them in a digital or physical mess.  

But when it comes time to re-register, or if someone infringes your trademark, you will need all the details of your current trade marks. Having organised, accessible folders for this information is crucial. This is especially important if you have multiple registrations. Some tips for keeping your trade mark information organised include:

  • keeping both hard and soft copies of relevant files;
  • saving soft copies both to your computer and online in a secure location;
  • organising your files into folders;
  • organising your folders into logo/name if you have multiple trade marks;
  • keeping your trade mark registration numbers handy for search purposes; and
  • keeping a record of the information you provided to substantiate your application.

2. Search Regularly and Efficiently

Trade mark registration will not prevent other people from attempting to replicate your name or logo. As a trade mark owner, you should be proactively searching for infringement. Some businesses engage a lawyer to take control of the monitoring process. If you decide to manage your trade marks yourself, ensure that you are thoroughly searching for infringement.

IP Australia Trade Mark Search

The first stop should be IP Australia’s trade mark database. Identifying new applications and opposing them can be time-consuming. However, a rival company that is attempting to register branding similar to your trade mark can pose serious consequences to your overall business. As such, it is important to conduct thorough searches on IP Australia in order to identify any new applications that may cause a conflict. The best way to do this is to frequently search for exact matches of your trade mark as well as variations, such as plurals and phonetically similar words. 

Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) Register and Australian Business Register (ABR)

Scrutinising business names and company registrations is a great way to keep on top of protecting your trade mark. This will indicate whether new businesses are planning on building a brand that exploits your mark.

You can use the ASIC name availability search, or the ABR ABN Lookup.

If you find a business that is using your trade mark, check to see what industry they operate in and the goods and/or services that they provide before jumping to trade mark infringement.

For example, a vehicle company and an alcohol company may have similar names. However, establishing a violation is unlikely.

If the company is in a similar class to your trade mark, you should take immediate action by sending a letter of demand.

Search Engines

Conducting regular Google searches for your trade mark will also help uncover infringing products and businesses. Upcoming enterprises are aware that search engine optimisation is key to building a brand. Googling your trade mark will give you an overview of rival businesses who may be misappropriating your mark.

3. Watch Competitors in Your Field

Pay close attention to emerging companies building similar brand identities or projecting comparable images into the market. It is important to ensure that similar companies don’t try to mimic your success by adopting your trademark or changing it slightly. If another trade mark is found to be “substantially identical” or “deceptively similar” to yours, that business will have violated your trade mark.

The two marks are compared side-by-side to determine if they are substantially identical. Then, a legal professional will search for essential similarities or differences.

The general impression of the two marks are accessed in the mind of the ordinary consumer to determine if one is deceptively similar to yours. The business may be found to be violating your trade mark rights if an everyday customer is likely to confuse the two marks.

Key Takeaways

After registering your brand with IP Australia, it is easy to forget to keep searching for competitors. However, you should regularly and thoroughly search for potential infringement.

Try setting up a reminder in your calendar to set aside one hour every month to scour the internet for new businesses who may be using your name. Keep tabs on competitors in your field who may want to develop similar products or logos to you. If you have any trade mark questions, contact LegalVision’s trade mark lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.
Sam Burrett

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