Reading time: 4 minutes

On 11 February 2017, ATMOSS was replaced by the new ‘Australian Trade Mark Search’ by IP Australia. This article was originally published in July 2016 under the former ATMOSS system.


The Australian Trade Marks Online Search System (ATMOSS) is the gateway to discovering whether another business has already snapped up your brand name. Seemingly designed by the same people who dreamed up Netscape Navigator, it can be cumbersome and unwieldy. We’ve set out a quick guide stepping you through how to use the search function.

Why Register a Trade Mark?

If you want to stop your competitors using and commercially exploiting your brand name, you will need to register a trade mark. Importantly, remember that it’s insufficient only to register your business name – this doesn’t give you any exclsuive rights whereas a trade mark does.

The Trade Marks Act 1995 (Cth) sets out the rules for registering your trade mark. Your name cannot conflict with another trade mark on the register. That is, if you want to register a trade mark which is sufficiently similar to another so that a consumer would struggle to distinguish between the two, then IP Australia won’t register yours.

Australian Trade Mark Process

1. Familiarise Yourself With the ATMOSS Search Page

You can find the ATMOSS tool here. Enter the site by clicking through as a  ‘guest’ and you land yourself on the ATMOSS basic search page. There are fields to fill out for word/image, class/es, trade mark status and trade mark number range. When searching for your name, you will mainly use the fields for word/image and classes.

Tip: Searching for a trade mark is not as simple as searching for a registered trade mark that is identical to yours. The crux of registering a trade mark is that if a name is similar enough to confuse customers or make it difficult for them to distinguish between two businesses, it won’t be registered. That means you can’t just search for an identical name. You may have to conduct several searches to determine whether there is a name that might either:

  1. Sound similar to yours;
  2. Look similar to your logo; or 
  3. Use other characters to create the same word which might mean your name is too similar to another and therefore won’t be accepted.

2. A Class Act

Your second step is to pick the right class for your name. There are 45 different trade mark categories or ‘classes’ to choose from – gyms and fitness to selling natural food products to electrical equipment. Classes 1-34 are goods and classes 34-35 are services. You can browse the classes by using IP Australia’s handy search engine tool.

For example, if you want to trade mark the name for your gym, you would need to pick a class relating to gyms/fitness and possibly also a class for the sale of clothing (if you also sell branded clothing). You should choose classes that relate to your main activity, otherwise costs very quickly increase.

3. Status Anxiety

Having your coveted business name pop up on ATMOSS is not pleasant. However, all is not lost! Using the drop down menu on the ATMOSS basic search page, you can choose to show only trade marks which have their status as ‘pending’, ‘registered’ or ‘renewal possible’. Trade marks which have a status of ‘pending’, ‘registered’ or ‘renewal possible’ are potential barriers to the registration of your trade mark. On the other hand, trade marks with the status ‘refused’, ‘removed’, ‘never registered’ or ‘lapsed’ are not likely to present a barrier to registration.

Key Takeaways

ATMOSS is your first point of reference if you want to determine whether you can trade mark your business name. Registering your trade mark will provide you with a statutory, enforceable right to use a name exclusively, whereas registering a business name does not. You won’t be able to trade mark a name if another business has already done so. ATMOSS then allows you to confirm whether your name is available before applying to IP Australia for registration. If you have any questions about what steps you should take to protect your business name or register a trademark, get in touch with our IP lawyers on 1300 544 755.


Redundancies and Restructuring: Understanding Your Employer Obligations

Thursday 7 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

If you plan on making a role redundant, it is crucial that you understand your employer obligations. Our free webinar will explain.
Register Now

How to Sponsor Foreign Workers For Your Tech Business

Wednesday 13 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Need web3 talent for your tech business? Consider sponsoring workers from overseas. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Advertising 101: Social Media, Influencers and the Law

Thursday 21 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn how to promote your business on social media without breaking the law. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Structuring for Certainty in Uncertain Times

Tuesday 26 July | 12:00 - 12:45pm

Learn how to structure to weather storm and ensure you can take advantage of the “green shoots” opportunities arising on the other side of a recession.
Register Now

Playing for the Prize: How to Run Trade Promotions

Thursday 28 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Running a promotion with a prize? Your business has specific trade promotion obligations. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Web3 Essentials: Understanding SAFT Agreements

Tuesday 2 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn how SAFT Agreements can help your Web3 business when raising capital. Register today for our free webinar.
Register Now

Understanding Your Annual Franchise Update Obligations

Wednesday 3 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Franchisors must meet annual reporting obligations each October. Understand your legal requirements by registering for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Legal Essentials for Product Manufacturers

Thursday 11 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

As a product manufacturer, do you know your legal obligations if there is a product recall? Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Chloe Sevil
Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2020 Innovation Award 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Award 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2020 Financial Times Award 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year Award 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2022 Law Firm of the Year Winner 2022 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards