If you are starting up a fashion label or already have a fashion label, you probably have started creating a logo for your brand. Registering this logo as a trade mark is a very important step in protecting your business’ identity. If you are well-known in the fashion industry or even if you’re just starting out, your logo is a very valuable marketing tool. This article will explain the legal considerations when applying for a trade mark for your fashion label. 

What is a Trade Mark?

A trade mark is a sign used to distinguish products and services. They must be:

  • unique;
  • distinctive; and
  • comply with a range of legal requirements.

Although commonly thought of as just logos, trade marks can encompass a whole range of different things, including:

  • words;
  • phrases;
  • single letters;
  • numbers;
  • smells;
  • shapes;
  • pictures;
  • movements; or
  • an aspect of packaging.

Why Should You Register a Trade Mark?

In the fashion industry, trade marks are a crucial part of your marketing strategy. They allow consumers to associate your brand with quality, aesthetic or style. These have significant implications for your business’ reputation and success.

While trade marking aspects of your brand isn’t legally required, they are a very useful risk minimisation strategy. A trade mark provides protection if competitors bring out similar products under similar brands. While there are other laws which can apply to protect you, enforcing your rights can be expensive and time-consuming. Therefore, it is a good idea to have something publicly listed as your intellectual property (IP).

Legal Requirements

1. Your Brand Name Must Not Be Descriptive

Other traders will have a legitimate need to be able to use certain words or phrases to describe their own business.

For example, you would run into problems if you tried to register your business under the name “Quality Jeans”. This is because other fashion businesses selling jeans would have a legitimate need to describe their products using those words.

2. Your Brand Name and Logo Must Not Be Similar to Another Trade Mark

Trade marks provide the owner with the exclusive rights to use a name or logo within their class of goods or services. This means that you are prevented from registering a trade mark that is very similar to one that already exists.

It is okay to have the same name as a trade mark that exists in a completely different category so long as there is no confusion.

For example, you would likely be able to trade mark a name for your fashion label even if a chemical supply company had a similar name.  

You may run into issues if you apply for a similar name to another registered mark in a similar class.

For example, if you are trying to register a name in relation to clothing and there is a similar mark registered in relation to shoes, this could cause an issue.

The most successful applications use made up brand names or tailored designs for their logos. You should consider employing a graphic designer or artist to design your logo.

Before applying for a trade mark, you should do a thorough search for similar brand names and logos on:

There is a risk that your application will be rejected if something similar comes up in your search, but you still go ahead with the name.

3. You Must Select the Right Classification for Your Fashion Brand

“Class” and “classification” are the terms used by IP Australia to distinguish categories of goods and services.

For example, class 12 covers vehicles while class 41 covers education services.

You will need to know which classes your fashion business falls under before preparing your application. You should ask yourself:

  • what am I selling; and
  • what am I likely to sell in the future?

You should make sure you apply for all relevant classes and pick everything that you will sell from the items in those classes. These are some classes which are likely to apply for you:

Class 18 Bags
Class 25 Clothing, shoes and hats
Class 26 Clothing accessories
Class 35 Retailing others’ clothing (e.g. ASOS)
Class 42 Clothing design

 

Key Takeaways

Before applying for trade marks for your fashion label, you should think about:

  • whether your brand name and logo are distinctive;
  • whether your brand name is descriptive;
  • which classes your goods and services fall within; and
  • whether your name and logo are unique in the classes that you are applying for.

You should do a thorough search of Google, social media and the trade marks register. If you have any trade mark questions for your fashion label, contact LegalVision’s trade mark lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Amelia Coutts
If you would like further information on any of the topics mentioned in this article, please get in touch using the form on this page.
If you would like to receive a free fixed-fee quote for a legal matter, please get in touch using the form on this page.