A trade mark is a sign, brand or logo which you can use to distinguish (set apart) your goods and services from other traders so that consumers can identify you.
When designing your trade mark, treat it as a potential ‘badge of origin’ for your goods and services – how critical is it to you that consumers think of your name first for a certain good or service over other traders, and what do you want them to think of?
A trade mark can be any combination of words, colours, logos, shapes, sounds or smells – the more unique the mark, the easier it will be to register and the more memorable.
A registered trade mark protects your chosen goods and services for ten years in Australia.
In business terms, a trade mark is an intangible asset which attaches the goodwill of your brand name and represents your reputation in the marketplace. As such, they are considered valuable intellectual property.
There are four basic types of trademarks:
1. Basic Trademark
A basic trade mark is a sign that distinguish the goods or services of a specific company or individual.
2. Certification Trademark
A certification trade mark is a sign certifying that the goods or services for which it is used meet a defined standard. They are owned by one person but licensed to others which meet the defined standard.
3. Collective Trademark
A collective mark is a sign used in the course of trade by members of an association to distinguish those goods produced or services provided by persons who are not members of the association.
4. Defensive Trademark
A defensive mark is a trade mark that can be infringed when a substantially identical or deceptively similar trade mark is used, not only on the goods or services for which the trade mark is registered, but also if it is used in respect of goods or services which are of the same description as, or closely related to the designated goods or services.
‘Classes’ refer to the classification of your goods and services when applying for a trade mark. To successfully protect your goods and services, you must define them on your trade mark application.
There are 45 classes– 34 “goods” classes and 10 “service” classes, which together comprise the Nice Classification Schedule (“niece”, not “nice”).
For example, if your trade mark is to protect apparel and clothing, then you will need to add GOODS class 25 to your application. If you also provide a retail service for those goods, then you must further add SERVICE class 35 to protect those activities. If you fail to register the service part, then another person may be able to register a similar mark in the provision of retail, even though you have protection for the actual clothing and apparel.