What is a Trademark?

A trademark is a sign often referred to as a “brand” or “logo” and is used to distinguish the goods or services of one trader from those of other traders in the marketplace. Trademarks include words, names, symbols and logos. Anything that distinctly identifies your company can be a trademark.

The main purpose of a trademark is to enable consumers to identify a product of a particular trader so as to distinguish it from the same or similar products provided by competitors. Trademarks come to represent not only actual goods and services, but the reputation of the producer. 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.

You are not required to register your trademark but it is highly recommended. Registration of your trademark gives you the exclusive right to use the mark in Australia for 10 years, renewable every 10 years thereafter.

Once a trademark is registered, the ® symbol may be legally used against the trademark. A ™ symbol indicates that a trader is using a sign as a trademark but does not indicate whether the sign is registered.