20th July, 2022
Less than 1.3 percent of Australian small businesses own a trade mark for their brand, creating the real risk of IP theft and copycatting.
Intellectual Property (IP) is a critical asset for many businesses, particularly when it comes to branding and logos – but many in Australia are unaware of the measures they can take to protect themselves from IP theft or misuse.
In fact, IP Australia, the government agency that administers IP rights and legislation relating to trade marks, estimates that of the total 2.3 million registered Australian small businesses, just 28,000 have a trade mark – less than 1.3 percent.
The most common example of a trade mark is a brand name or logo, but it can be any recognisable sign, graphic design, or expression that identifies your business. It’s how your customers will recognise you in the marketplace and distinguish you from your competitors, and is used to protect your business brand from misuse and consumer confusion.
A trade mark can help build a memorable experience with customers, and lead to brand loyalty and repeat business. Registering a trade mark also gives you exclusive rights to use that trade mark as your brand in Australia, and you have a legal avenue to prevent others from trading with it for similar goods and services.
According to IP Australia, there are four main ways small businesses benefit from trademarking their brand.
Exclusive right to use the trade mark across all Australian states, for an initial period of 10 years with the ability to renew indefinitely.
Having a legal avenue to stop others from using your trade mark on similar goods and services.
The ability to authorise others to use your trade mark. This is a powerful tool for when you create agreements with producers, distributors, sellers or contractors.
A trade mark can be bought, sold or transferred which can increase the value of your business.
One of the major reasons why you should consider registering a trade mark is that it significantly reduces the risk you’ll need to rebrand should another organisation or individual start to use a similar name, logo or recognisable expression.
Rebranding activities can be costly and time consuming, and that’s before the inclusion of litigation costs that may occur due to trade mark infringement.
Trade marks form a part of the valuable IP portfolio of a business, yet many small business operators are either unaware of their importance, consider the application and registration process too complex or simply forget to submit an application.
Thankfully, IP Australia are piloting a new tool for small business owners to check for trade mark availability and then easily apply. You can visit their free trade mark checker.
If you want to learn even more about trade marks for small businesses, you can start by visiting IP Australia’s SME portal.