Hidden beneath layers of information and links on IP Australia’s website lies ATMOSS – a tool about which only the initiated or dedicated Googlers know. Its design, layout and user-friendliness rating may be pre-dotcom bust, but ATMOSS is your key to landing intellectual property rights in your razor sharp, on-point and on-trend brand name for your business.

To dissect the acronym, ATMOSS stands for the Australian Trade Marks Online Search System. This System is your ticket to finding out whether the name you want for your new business is available, or whether an early bird saw the sunrise and has secured a trademark in the name already.

As mentioned, ATMOSS can be difficult to use. We’re pleased to provide you with a pocket guide to the system that will help you get the results you need.

Where can I find ATMOSS?

First things first, ATMOSS can be found here. This link lands you on the ATMOSS home page or search page. Enter as a guest and you will be able to search the system.

How to use ATMOSS

As a brief introduction to our explanation, the purpose of trademarking a name is to prevent similar businesses from being able to use a name that is similar or identical to your own. If consumers would confuse the two businesses, the trademarks may be too similar. ATMOSS is structured and has search functions so that not only can you find names that are identical to yours, but also names that have the potential to be confused with yours.

Searching for a trademark – Word/Image search

The ATMOSS Word/Image search allows you to look for a trademark that is:

  • pending
  • registered
  • removed
  • refused
  • registered
  • never registered.

If you want to trademark a name, you should search for whether a similar name to yours is already pending or registered, as this could be a potential barrier to registering your name.

When you conduct a Word/Image search, you can choose to search for a:

  1. Exact Word
  2. Word Prefix
  3. Part Word
  4. Word Suffix
  5. Phonetic Word
  6. Part Image
  7. Exact Image
  8. Fuzzy Word
  9. Word Stem
  10. Wildcard.

When you search for similar or identical trademarks to your own, the exact word and part-word searches are likely to be the most important. Ultimately, the more comprehensive your search is, the easier it will be to determine the availability of a name. As such, you should use as many of the search functions listed above as possible.

Example: Trademarking “Easy Breezy Angels”

To use an example, you own a cleaning business, and you’d like to trademark the name “Easy Breezy Angels”. You need to apply to IP Australia to trademark, and before you do this, you want to understand whether the name “Easy Breezy Angels” is available. Once you know whether or not it is available, you’ll have a better idea of your chance of success when you apply.

A first step would be to conduct an ‘exact word’ Word/Image search on ATMOSS to determine whether Easy Breezy Angels is available. An exact word search looks for words that are identical. It is good news if nothing shows up, but your search needs to be comprehensive to make sure you find names that may be similar and not just identical to your name.

Searching for similar trademarks

Using a ‘part word’ search will locate any words that contain your search term anywhere in the word. For example, if you do a ‘part word’ search for the word ‘Angel’, ATMOSS will find trademarks which use ‘Angel’ as part of their name, for example ‘Angels’, ‘Frangelico’ or ‘Tea Angels’.

Using the ‘word prefix’ and ‘word suffix’ search functions increases the comprehensiveness of your search. If you’re serious about wanting to trademark your name, use these functions to check the register is clear. A prefix is a group of letters added to the start of a word, for example adding ‘mis’ to ‘fortune’ gives misfortune. Alternatively, a suffix adds a group of letters after the word. For instance, adding ‘able’ to ‘comfort’ to make ‘comfortable’.

Word prefix searches

Going back to our earlier example, searching for the word ‘Angel’ using the word prefix search finds any instance where ‘angel’ forms the beginning of a word, such as ‘angelus’. It will also search for any occurrence of the word as a full word, such as ‘dial an angel’.

Word Suffix Searches

Conversely, a ‘word suffix’ search finds instances where ‘Angel’ forms the ending of a word, for example, ‘PetAngel’ or where ‘angel’ forms a word by itself.

What can’t ATMOSS do?

If you don’t have a brilliant name in the first place, ATMOSS won’t generate a name for you, nor will it provide you with advice on whether your proposed name will be accepted by examiners at IP Australia. You can use ATMOSS to search the register for trademarks that are similar to yours and which might be a barrier to the registration of your name, but the system does not provide you with advice.

Conclusion

In summary, to trademark a name in Australia, you need to make an application to IP Australia. IP Australia will refuse to register a trademark if a name already exists that is too similar to the proposed name. If the name is too descriptive of the goods or services for which it will be used, it may not become registered. ATMOSS exists so that you can search for names that might be an obstacle for your application. Searching on ATMOSS can be challenging, however, the guide above gives you examples to understand how the system works Get in touch with our trademark specialists for your obligation-free consultation and free fixed-fee quote.

Chloe Sevil

Next Steps

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