If You Like It Then You Better Put a Trade Mark On It!

 In Ask The Experts, Entrepreneurs & Startups

When I was reading the inhindsight eBook a few weeks ago one thing that struck me was when Hayden Cox, Founder of Haydens Shapes surfboards and inventor of fibreflex was talking about how one call to his attorney saved him from what could have been a fatal error!

He says “I rang an attorney and he pointed out that my patent had to cover me internationally. Best phone call of my life. I wanted to have as much of the surfboard industry using my technology as possible so I wanted to license the technology to others, but I couldn’t do that if I didn’t own it globally. Thank God I made that call”

Second to reading that, I also came across a Q&A on Smarter Business Ideas website (http://smarter.telstrabusiness.com) regarding Trade marking. The reader wrote: “I’m thinking about selling my products overseas, but I’m worried they’ll get copied by competitors when I start exporting. How do I stop this from happening?

To which the author Peter Willimott responded “The best way to reduce this risk is to register a trade mark in the countries you might want to operate in now or the future.  A registered trade mark will act a bit like a barbed wire fence – it’s a deterrent and sends a signal to would be imitators that you are serious about protecting your brand.”

It got me thinking about how important patents and trade marks are to ones business. If Hayden had not got a patent to cover himself internationally he wouldn’t have been able to grow his business and capitalize on massive opportunity. Also without trade marking you run the risk of things like brand copy.

So I thought I would dedicate this blog to a little know how on what exactly trade marking and patents are. N.B For this information I went onto the IP Australia website. It has loads of helpful information http://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/.

Sometimes having a great business idea isn’t enough, you need to make sure you are getting the right protection! I hope you find this helpful to your business.

So what Is a Patent?

patent is a right granted for any device, substance, method or process which is new, inventive and useful.

A patent is legally enforceable and gives the owner the exclusive right to commercially exploit the invention for the life of the patent. This is not automatic-you must apply for a patent to obtain exclusive rights to exploit your invention. There are two types of patents in Australia;

  • A standard patent gives long-term protection and control over an invention for up to 20 years.
  • An innovation patent is a relatively fast, inexpensive protection option, lasting a maximum of 8 years.

Patents give effective protection if you have invented new technology that will lead to a product, composition or process with significant long-term commercial gain.

You cannot patent artistic creations, mathematical models, plans, schemes or other purely mental processes.

And what is a Trade Mark?

A trade mark can be a word, phrase, letter, number, sound, smell, shape, logo, picture, aspect of packaging or a combination of these. A trade mark can also protect your brand name.

It is used to distinguish the goods and services of one trader from those of another.

A registered trade mark gives you the legal right to use, license or sell it within Australia for the goods and services for which it is registered.

The difference between trade marks, business, company and domain names sometimes causes confusion. Registration of a business, company or domain name does not in itself give you any proprietary rights – only a trade mark can give you that kind of protection.

A trade mark can be a valuable marketing tool

An appropriate trade mark should be an integral part of the marketing strategy for your goods and services. The public will identify a certain quality and image with goods and services bearing your trade mark. It can become an important means of maintaining goodwill with your clients and improving your bottom-line!

Types of trade marks that are difficult to register

A trade mark that describes your goods (eg. radios) and services (eg. electrician). It must not be a sign that other traders may wish to use to promote or describe their goods and services, nor can it mislead the public about the nature of your goods and services.

It is also very difficult to register a geographic name or a common surname as a trade mark, however, someone who has used one extensively for a considerable period of time may be able to achieve registration.

Considering filing an application for registration of your trade mark?

Before settling on a trade mark to register it is best to brainstorm a range of trade marks or logos which you think could be appropriate. This should always be followed by a thorough search of the trade marks database and other goods and services existing in the market place to ensure that you will not be infringing any existing trade marks.

International Trade Marks

Australia joined the Madrid Protocol relating to international registration of trade marks on 11 July 2001. The Protocol provides Australians with a simpler and less expensive way of seeking trade mark protection overseas and presents several advantages to applicants seeking protection in any of the contracting states.

So if you are looking to trade overseas it might be worth your while looking into International trade markets and requirements.

Well there you have it folks – A quick and basic insight into patents and trademarks. As I always say make sure you get on the net and research this stuff. There is so much information available to you online. Don’t get caught out, always seek advice and expand your knowledge!


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