If you are a business owner, it is common to wonder whether you should register your business name or logo as a trade mark. Registering a trade mark is a great way to ensure that your business’ brand is protected. While it is always best to register both your business name or logo, there are situations you will need to choose. This article explains what you should consider when looking to register a trade mark and the benefits of each type of mark.

Different Types of Protection

Business names and logos are registered as separate trade marks. In Australia, there are a number of different types of marks that are relevant to registering a business name or logo:

Type of Mark Description Protection 
Word mark Registration of a business name Protects the name itself, not any particular font or styling.
Device mark  A mark composed of an image or graphic Protects the overall impression of the image. This includes the shape, orientation and style.
Composite mark  A mark that contains both a graphic and at least one word  The same as a device mark but includes the words on the image. Importantly, the words themselves do not have trade mark protection.

 

What if I Can’t Register my Business Name as a Trade Mark?

IP Australia might reject your trade mark if there is an identical or very similar trade mark already on the register. If this is the case, you should consider changing your name as it may be infringing on someone else’s trade mark rights. 

Your trade mark may also be rejected if it is not  ‘inherently capable of distinguishing’ the goods or services of your business from that of another business. Essentially, IP Australia will raise an objection if they believe that the word mark is too generic or descriptive. In this situation, you may wish to register your logo rather than your name. If you have a logo that constitutes a device mark or a composite mark, you may find more success in registering the trade mark. Another option is to register an acronym (if it isn’t already on the register) of your business name.

However, you can overcome both of these objections if you can demonstrate evidence of use. Here, you essentially must be able to establish that your business has been using the name over a long period of time to establish your brand presence. 

What if Both are Available, But I Can Only Afford One?

The process of registering trade marks can get expensive. Therefore, businesses that are starting out sometimes face the decision of choosing to apply for only one trade mark because of cost. If both a word mark and a logo are possible options, the decision is up to you. You should consider the differences between the two protections as set out above. Also, take care to confirm that no one else is using your name or logo.

How do Consumers Recognise and Identify Your Brand?

Many logos incorporate a graphic element and a business name. Where the business name forms a large part of the logo’s overall impression, registering your business name will provide some protection over a composite trade mark or the logo as a whole.

Most businesses choose to begin with registering their business name and register their logo later. However, registering both straight away as a preventative measure outweighs the potential costs of any trouble that may arise in the future if the marks are not registered.

Key Takeaways

If you are a new business owner, you should consider whether you wish to register your business name or logo. There are three key types of trade marks that protect business names and logos:

  • word marks;
  • device marks; and
  • composite marks.

If you are unsure what mark to register for your business, contact LegalVision’s trade mark lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Dhanu Eliezer
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