Do I need a trade mark? I already have a domain/business name/company name!
You may know that trade marks are the part of a brand you can say or describe. Common examples are a name (Nike®) or a logo (the “swoosh”).
The only way to secure exclusive use of a brand is to register it as a trade mark.
Surely my domain, business name or company name is enough!
Unfortunately not! Registering a domain, business name, company name or social media handle doesn’t provide exclusive rights in that name.
- Company names identify legally incorporated entities. However, a company may choose to trade under a name other than its registered company name (e.g. XDE Holdings Pty Ltd);
- Registered trading names or business names can be used instead of a full legal entity name (e.g. XDE Designs Pty Ltd might trade as XDE Design);
- Domain names provide exclusive right to use a website address. Registration of a domain name doesn’t give the owner any rights in the name separately from the website address;
- Only a valid trade mark registration can stop other traders from using confusingly similar brands.
Even if you successfully register a company name, business name or domain name, you might still find yourself on the receiving end of a nasty letter if you use the domain, company or business name for goods or services the same as or close to those already covered by a registered trade mark. It’s really important to make sure a domain, business or company name doesn’t infringe a registered trade mark.
A valid trade mark registration will give you comfort that your chosen brand is available for use without infringing someone else’s rights. Imagine you’ve designed your marketing materials and paid for awesome signage or web presence, only to find out that you’re infringing someone else’s trade mark! Your trade mark registration can also stop other traders using a confusingly similar name in respect of similar goods or services as your trade mark covers.
A trade mark registration will also give you the ability to licence use of the trade mark in respect of the goods or services identified in the registration. Need more convincing? A trade mark registration is a saleable asset – a clear value-add to any business.