Trademark News

Importance of Australian Trademark »

In a previous post, we covered the “Top Trademarks in Australia, the most recognizable trademarked logos worldwide in How Your Trademarked Logo Can Strengthen Your Brand, and the big leagues of global brands inHow Does My Business Benefit From Securing My Trademark in Australia.

Therefore, if you’ve read these posts (go ahead and read them now if you haven’t yet), you will know that Australia’s top brand Telestra values its brand to the tune of $9,700 million while Coca Cola values its brand at $67,000 million.

In the ever expanding marketplace (thanks to the Internet and social media), competition is high. As a result, distinction and visibility enhances your business exponentially a well.

How can you stand above the crowd? Choosing an appropriate element to trademark is a crucial step. As we’ve seen, it doesn’t even have to just be your name or logo (although these are good starting point if you are new to branding), it can also be many non-conventional options.

What is important is to pick a mark that best conveys what thoughts and feelings your business will provoke in people like in the case of MacDonald’s Golden Arches, Nike’s Swoosh, and Whiska’s purple pink packaging. Each of these is easily recognizable. Of course, these brands took time to develop so rally your marketing and customer relations efforts around your trademark and build around it!

Advantages of Trademark Registration »

Trademark Registration gives you many commercial and legal advantages.

  1. A trademark makes your name, logo, and other mark exclusive to you. Therefore, only you can use it. It strongly emphasizes your uniqueness!
  2. Any future trademark application will be verified to ensure your trademark is not duplicated by your competitors. You can sleep better knowing an identical mark isn’t used within your own industry, causing confusion and diluting your brand.
  3. You would be surprised the effect trademark registration has in deterring others from even using similar marks. Talk about uniqueness!
  4. Your registered trademark is like property. You can even loan it out (licensing) in exchange for compensation.

Trademark registration lets you use the ® symbol with your trademark. Want to find out the trademark tools you can use and how to use them? Read The Alphabet of Australian Trademarks.

Trademark Registration in Australia, the Big Picture, and Your Business »

If you are a homeowner or own anything valuable like a car then you know that both are assets you protect with insurance and more. Likewise, your name, logo, product packaging, product design, and other parts of your business that set you apart from your competition, especially in your customers’ eyes, are valuable assets that must be protected through trademark registration. Not only are your trademarks crucial for marketing but also for customer relations since your trademarks communicate history, commitment, and other perceptions and feelings from your customers.

Now that you know trademark registration will protect your whole business brand identity, what exactly can you trademark? Check out The Top 3 Trademark FAQs to get you started.

Trademark Registration – Will You Make It Or Break It? »

To seal the deal, we have compiled the direct benefits of registering your trademark in Australia.

  1. Don’t be confused with the other guys. You are not the only business in the country. Therefore, registering your trademark will prevent confusion by distinguishing the uniqueness and ownership of your trademark elements (word, logo, colour, shape, sound, smell, taste, etc.). As more businesses pop-up, protecting yourself against infringement will be made much easier.
  2. It will help your competitor’s not even toy with the idea of using confusingly similar elements in marketing their own brand and products to avoid going to court.
  3. Having the registered trademark symbol ® will give your brand and products more marketing power! It shows consumers your trademark is a serious contender.
  4. You can legally recoup financial losses from counterfeit and infringement cases that cost your business.
  5. Last but not least, it is now a global market. Your trademark in Australia registered is the foundation for international registration, defending your brand globally as your business grows globally.

Again, with the Internet and social networks, global expansion and reaching customers on the other side of the world is all possible!

Trademark Is King »

Yes, your trademark in Australia can become a top brand too! Overall, a registered trademark is more than another deduction in your spreadsheets.. On the other hand, with your trademark in Australia, you are investing in your customer’s awareness and support of your company whether it is your name, logo, product packaging, or colour. As companies from Coca Cola to Levi’s can attest, a registered trademark is the overture to not only higher sales but more importantly, higher customer satisfaction and goodwill that will keep them coming back as well as telling all their friends. And in an era where Facebook and Twitter are king among even the non-tech-savvy (you can link to the social media article), trademark is crucial for a business “breaking it” or “making it.”

The previous list of Top 100 Global Brands we presented was compiled not only on past and current performance but also on future earnings predicted based on the brands’ strength and ability to lead the market and reach consumers worldwide—using only the power of their name!

How Does My Business Benefit From Securing My Trademark in Australia »

Not convinced yet that your trademark Australia can be almost one third of your business’ value? What about recent estimates that some of the world’s leading brands are worth around $100 billion each? Yes, there is power in your name!

Join the Big Leagues

Just ask the Top 10 companies in a list of the world’s top trademarks/brands according to a 2009 survey by BusinessWeek and Interbrand.

  1. Coca Cola – $67,000 million
  2. Microsoft – $56,926 million
  3. IBM – $56,201 million
  4. GE – $48,907 million
  5. Intel – $32,319 million
  6. Nokia – $30,131 million
  7. Toyota – $27,941 million
  8. Disney – $27,848 million
  9. McDonalds – $27,501 million
  10. Mercedes Benz – $21,795 million

Finally, ask the bottom 10 what their trademark has done for them.

  1. Starbucks – $3,099 million
  2. Lexus – $3,070 million
  3. Smirnoff – $3,032 million
  4. LG – $3,010 million
  5. Bulgari – $2,875 million
  6. Prada – $2,874 million
  7. Armani – $2,783 million
  8. Burberry – $2,783 million
  9. Nivea – $2,692 million
  10. Levi’s – $2,689 million

No complaints from the bottom either.

Final Part – Logo Registration »

Finally, by making your logo a trademark through logo registration, you will emphasize that your logo belongs exclusively to your company. It will present a more professional image and show your commitment to advancing your brand in the public awareness by making sure it cannot be confused with others.

For small-to-midsized businesses, particularly start-ups, your registered logo can make you look like you are in the big leagues by making you appear and feel more professional and just plain bigger—about as big as the multinationals like MacDonalds, Nike, and CNN.

Are you happy with your current logo? Do you feel there is potential value in your logo as a marketing tool as we’ve described in this 3-part article?

Benefits of a Logo »

Well-thought out logos trademarked and secured by logo registration, can benefit a business by:

  1. Adding enhanced distinction – Your unique business name is only the start of distinguishing your company because a logo will strengthen your corporate identity on plain sight and can cross language barriers especially in today’s global marketplace. Uniqueness and distinction are characteristics successful companies all display.
  2. Loads of Personality – A logo does more than be recognized, a logo is felt. A logo has a subconscious power on consumers to suggest specific feelings and even scents. For example, a hungry prospect will see the golden arches and salivate at the smell of French fries.
  3. Brand Identity That Sticks – A logo sticks. Images are more memorable that words. Everyday signs like red for “stop” and green for “go” are just the tip of the iceberg. People will remember your logo and trigger your name being remembered.

Worldwide Brand Awareness – Logo Registration »

Your trademarked logo (secured through logo registration) can reach great heights. For example, the golden arches of MacDonald’s, the Nike Swoosh mark, Google’s multicoloured letters, and the CNN red call letters are among the world’s most recognized trademarked logos. Wherever on the planet you go, chances are people will know it and more importantly, the public will feel an emotional connection and reaction to the logo design. Below are just some examples of this:

  • Golden Arches, MacDonald’s: Longevity (Over A Billion Served), Satisfy Hunger Fast & Affordably
  • Swoosh, Nike: Athletic, Motion, Active
  • Multicoloured Letters, Google: Search, Innovation
  • Red letters, CNN: Trusted, News

These companies use their logos to evoke familiarity, feeling, and hopefully, some comfort like an old friend. In fact, the most successful logos are symbols/signs that need no accompanying text to be distinguished like the golden arches and the swoosh.

Trademark Registration of Colours & Other Non-Conventional Trademarks »

In Whiskas’ case, the pinkish purple trademark colour “Whiskas Purple” is specifically 40% cyan and 100% magenta. As anyone who has toyed with Photoshop or graphic arts knows, CMYK is the DNA of colours.

Before you start to panic, the same colour can be used by other companies but not on competing products. Again, in Whiskas’ case, Nestle was using a similar purple colour for their Purina brand of pet food, directly competing with Mars’ Whiskas brand whose trademark registration was filed as early as 2002.

Therefore, to claim a colour, a brand must show it is both unique and integral to the brand or product. This means consistency as in Whiskas’ case where the pinkish purple has been used in nearly all promotional efforts for Whiskas, showing the colour’s significance as a trademark.

While Purina’s cat food brand’s use of purple seems entirely coincidental, Purina’s mother company, Nestle, has been allowed by Mars/Whiskas continued use of purple in Purina products. However, rivals in the pet food industry with less than innocent intentions should avoid the colour altogether or be accused of infringement.

As for other non-conventional trademarks in the public eye:

  • Coca Cola’s hourglass soft drink bottle: trademarked
  • The floral scent for knitting yarn: trademarked
  • The US TV network NBC’s chimes: trademarked

Surprisingly, perfumes cannot be trademarked since they are considered functional as opposed to a branding element.

With such a tidal wave of interest in non-conventional trademarks, do you feel non-conventional trademark like colours are worth the effort as branding tools?

What is a Non-Conventional Trademark? »

If you review the definition of “trademark”—it is a distinctive sign or indicator unique and integral to an individual or organization’s brand. As a result, it is not surprising that trademark registration of non-conventional or non-traditional marks have evolved to encompass visible (colour, shape, motion, holograms, positions) and non-visible (smell, taste, texture, and sound).

The Whiskas/Mars victory is only the tip of the iceberg as there are now over 220 registered colour marks in Australia with more over 305 currently being pursued for trademark registration.

And before you think you can use another shade of purple apart from “Whiskas Purple” for your own company—popular candy manufacturer Cadbury has 5 shades of purple awaiting trademark registration. How is this even decided?

Do you have your own corporate colour or a colour attached and integral to one of your products? Do your known competitors use a similar shade?

Trademark Registration of Colours & Other Non-Conventional Trademarks – Introduction »

“Whiskas Purple” (shown below) is the exclusive trademark of Mars Australia Pty Ltd, the manufacturer of both Whiskas and the colour, which, according to evidence presented in the country’s Federal Court was wholly created from scratch. Mars, a pet care industry leader, has used “Whiskas Purple” since 2000,” and subsequently, the colour is a strong element of their product line’s brand identity. The ruling, made in June 1010, was contested for seven years by their rival, Nestle, which eventually withdrew their protests.

Whiskas - Trademark Registration
Whiskas Purple is the exclusive trademark of Mars, Inc.

Do you think it is fair for corporations to claim colours for exclusive use with only their specific product lines? What do you think will happen once every existing colour is claimed?

Top Trademarks in Australia – Local Boy Makes It Big »

Banks and Telecommunications dominate the Top 10 of Trademarks in Australia with a bit of retail and clothing here and there. Is it any wonder? Our daily exposure to these trademarks in Australia is not just based on our need for their goods and services but also thanks to our loyalty to them.

These companies have crafted a strong mix of customer satisfaction and service—emotions immediately triggered by their name, logo, color of their packaging, all their trademarks. And another thing these brands share is that these trademarks Australia are weathering and in some cases, prospering in the economic downturn and looking forward to future growth. In fact, local companies like Billabong, Harvey Norman, Macquarie, Ansell, and more are even establishing overseas interests and presences thanks to their local success.

As this post shows, trademarks in Australia are real assets. Why do you think Telestar, Commonwealth, and Woolworth have such strong brand values in their respective industries?

Top Trademarks in Australia – The Best in Our Backyard! »

If brand value was survival of the fittest, the following trademarks in Australia top the list:

10. Harvey Norman – Retail – $1,300 million
9. St. George – Banking/Financial Services – $1,900 million
8. Billabong – Apparel – $2,200 million
7. ANZ – Banking/Financial Services – $3,100 million
6. Macquarie – Banking/Financial Services – $3,200 million
5. Woolworths – Retail – $4,600 million
4. Westpac – Banking/Financial Services – $4,800
3. nab – Banking/Financial Services – $5,100 million
2. Commonwealth Bank – Banking/Financial Services – $7,100 million
1. Telstra – Telecommunications – $9,700 million

Which of the brands leading this list do you interact with on a daily or weekly basis? Do you do your banking at Commonwealth or shop at Woolworths? Do you think positively or negatively when you see their logo or hear their name?

Top Trademarks in Australia – Survival of the Fittest »

The Top Trademarks Australia prove your branding is an asset that you need to protect now by registering it (name, logo, slogan, design, image, etc.) as a trademark. In a previous post, we covered the potential (and to an extent, necessity) of trademarks in a steadily global marketplace. In this post, we bring the topic back home with our review of Interbrand’s list of 2009′s Best Australian Brands followed by why putting your trademark/brand at the heart of your entire business is the best investment in your business’ own success story especially during the recent tough times in the global economy.

Let’s face it, in a more stable or even prosperous economy; your business would establish brand value to be competitive. Today’s tougher times should drive the point harder that customers have limited choices  due to shrinking budgets and will flock to the brands they know and trust will give them the most satisfaction for their money. Therefore, understanding what your brand offers and what your customers think about your brand will get you a better return on investment.

Subsequently, protecting your brand by registering your trademarks in Australia should be a high priority since you should be looking at long-term success in an unsure economy instead of just how you do this quarter despite all the pressures to just stay open for business nowadays.

If brand value was survival of the fittest, the following trademarks in Australia top the list:

Who do you think will place on the Top Australian Brands just from your own daily experience?

Finally, the ®: Registered Trademark »

Registered Australian trademarks are identified by the R symbol ® and should only be used with registered marks. As a trademark owner, you should foremost use it consistently—avoiding all possible variations.

Not only will consistency make your brand stronger with consumers, but it will avoid confusion in the public eye as a whole. Moreover, it will reinforce your business’ overall uniqueness whether it is a business name, logo, or product name you are marking.

To make sure your trademark is distinguished from all other text in your copy, you can use the following styles:

  1. Make it Bold: Your Brand ® product
  2. ALL CAPS IT: YOUR BRAND ® product
  3. Use quotes: “Your Brand” ® product
  4. Cap the first letter: Your Brand ® product
  5. Italicize it: Your Brand ®product
  6. Mix in the actual word “brand” to say it is a brand: Your Brand ® brand product

There are many more ways to distinguish your brand but as mentioned previously, keep your use consistent every time! Not only will you secure your hold on your trademark but it will truly make your brand concrete. Just ask Kleenex ®and Xerox®, who have, in time, become synonymous, respectively, for tissues and copiers.

Can you ever imagine your company name becoming, through trademark, synonymous with the actual product or service you are delivering like Xerox® and Kleenex®? How important is it to your business to be distinguished like these two world-renowned names? What benefits can you enjoy?

Introducing TM & SM »

TM: Unregistered Trade mark

Simply known as the trademark symbol, the letters TM is more fully defined as the unregistered trade mark and is used to brand goods. In order for a business to use this mark, it does not require even an application for Australian trademarks to be filed, just the intention to put the public and competitors on notice that the business is laying claim to something (name, logo, and any applicable item that can be trademarked).

SM: Service mark

Similarly, the SM symbol is an unregistered service mark symbol. It is used to brand services instead of goods without yet filing a trademark application.

With both TM and SM, only completion of the Australian trademarks application process will actually enforce full legal protection although the unregistered trademarks symbols do provide minimal protection.

Were you aware you could use TM and SM for your business name, slogan, logo, or other item that can be trademarked without even filing a trademark application? Have you used them?

Introducing Trademark Symbols & Usage »

You’ve seen them used for KLEENEX ® tissues, Apple ® computers, and Xerox® copiers, but do you know what they are?

Three symbols are well-associated with Australian trademarks. They are TM, SM, and R. It is vital for trademark owners to use these symbols properly in order to establish, maintain, and defend their rights before and after they have obtained a trademark. As a consequence of improperly applying these symbols or not stopping others from abusing their use or infringing, ownership of the trademark could be ultimately lost. Important guidelines ensure these symbols are used correctly for your packaging, promotions, advertisements, and more media, including your website.

The first rule is to use these symbols to only define the brand or source of the product or service and not the product or service itself. Hence, per the example above, here is the correct usage:

KLEENEX ® tissues, Apple ® computers, and Xerox® copiers

What is the difference between trademark and copyright? »

Instead of giving you the dictionary definitions of copyright and trademark, both of which you can look up yourself, this final part of our Top Three FAQs regarding trademark registration in Australia will examine the practical applications of both through two cases:

Case #1: A jewellery designer in Tasmania has designed an absolutely one-of-a-kind masterpiece using stones native to the area. Should he file a trademark or copyright?

Case # 2: A playwright in Sydney has just completed her Magnus opus about the history of the city. Should she file a copyright or trademark?

Our Jeweller should consider registering his trademark for his unique creation, a product design he needs to protect.

Our aspiring William Shakespeare is best protected by a copyright, which traditionally only covered books then maps, musical compositions, and other artistic products that do crossover into trademark territory like photographs. Why the crossover?

Trademark will certainly offer deeper protection. For example, if an award-winning photograph contains the Nike trademarked logo, it is a trademark infringement.

However the contents of the book the woman in the picture is reading on the way to the park is not a copyright infringement unless the pages are replicated in clear word-for-word or used as a quote without permission in the ad copy.

It is an often hazy distinction, we know. What we would like to know is: Do you think both trademark and copyright protect original work and thoughts or suppress creativity in future artists and thinkers?

Do I need to register my business name before I can trademark it? »

Which came first—the chicken or the egg? If you are in business now selling products or services, trademark registration in Australia will only support you in marketing your business better as well as protect all the hard work you put in. However, trademarks can also be used by individual and other legal entities (such as a charity, which still requires government registration for tax purposes).

Photographers, for example, are constantly facing a threat when publishing their work, especially online. In fact, most lawsuits worldwide involving this industry are filed against the people using photographs rather than the photographers themselves.

Therefore, whatever your profession, keep in mind, the underlying definition of a trademark—whether image, symbol, name, or product—it must be unique to a particular industry. In this age of digital intellectual property like e-Books and music downloads, the people who produce these works need to be aware.

For anyone who falls in the latter group we discussed—non-business owners like artists and writers—does trademark for your intellectual property make sense or sound like too much trouble?

What can I trademark? »

Trademark registration in Australia will protect names like company names and product names. Nowadays, you will also need it safeguard domain names if you plan to have a website for your products and services. Even if you don’t plan on doing anything extensive online, you surely don’t want someone else representing your trademark online so register that domain name anyway as well as keep a close watch over the online activity of your name on search engines and popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter (link to first article on Social Media and trademark).

Other intellectual properties that can be protected are: your logo, taglines/slogans, images, symbols, sounds, colors, product packaging (sometimes called trade dress) and product design.

I am sure you are wondering sounds and colours? Yes, colours and sounds! See how much you didn’t know about trademarks?

We might go in-depth in future posts to address non-conventional trademarks. However, for now, what we would like to know is: Is there anything on our list you thought you could trademark but did not show up?

How Social Media Poses a Threat to Your Trademark: Trademark Owners Still Have Options »

However, smart and savvy business owners who have availed of the many benefits of Australian trademark registration still have legal options. Under Australian government IP or Intellectual property regulations, trademark owners can still take action against the infringer (also known as enforcement) for trademark infringement since it makes unauthorized use of the legal trademark’s IP, particularly if content on the offending source claims affiliation or to, in fact, be the legal business. Of course, keep in mind that social networks nowadays are global in scale, a blessing for marketing and a challenge for legal reasons. While it might be difficult to indentify unauthorized use of your trademark outside Australia, being aware of how others are using your trademark is your first step to getting back in control.

Are you generally positive about how you can use social media for marketing your business or paranoid about the time and energy being vigilant about your trademark on the numerous social networks?

How Social Media Poses a Threat to Your Trademark: First the Bad News »

Whereas business owners who protected themselves with Australian trademark registration could once upon a time rely on Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Acts and the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) to protect their brand against unauthorized use, especially by competitors who could redirect the domain name in dispute and more importantly, your brand loyal customers to their site, the Web 1.0 regulations now fall short in the Web 2.0 world of social media. @yourbusinessname on Twitter and on Facebook both go beyond the second-level domain name coverage against infringement of the former regulations. As a result, the aforementioned “old rules” are no longer valid. Your trademark is undeniably left exposed.

How might the problem we’ve presented above affect your business?

How Social Media Poses a Threat to Your Trademark: Uncharted Waters »

By now, most business owners will have heard that social media marketing is good for business. International brands like MacDonald’s, Coca Cola, and Pepsi are taking advantage of social media marketing alongside familiar names like Sydney Morning Herald, Angus & Robertson, and David Jones, local to Australia on Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately, as was also the case in the early days of the Internet, social media, as similarly uncharted waters, also poses big challenges for both big and small businesses that we will review in these series of posts well as how Australian trademark registration and not just domain name and company/business name registration will best protect your business.

Have you been on Facebook, Twitter, or other social networks and searched for your business name? Did the result surprise you?

Business Name v.s Trademark Registration »

A Trademark is a distinguishable mark that attributes ownership and quality to products and services whilst a business name or company name is simply for identification purposes irrespective of the company’s products and services. However to make a trademark useful the symbol itself must be in use. Simply registering a trademark does not entitle you to deny another business the right to use that trademark. You must publically show a clear connection between your trade mark and the goods or services you provide.

A simple way to mark your name as a trademark is to put the letters TM next to your trademark. This tells other people that the product you are selling is under a certain brand name that you regard as a trademark. It is not compulsory to register a trademark, though many lawyers would recommend that you do so to avoid considerable and expensive difficulties that surround the enforcement of unregistered trade mark.

Most large corporations or businesses that want to expand will trademark products before expanding and use their trademark registration in courts to defend their naming rights. Having a name you wish to protect registered as a business name does not constitute any power of the slogan or name you wish to protect in court. If you do wish to prosecute possessing a company name when undertaking the trademark registration process will also protect you and your personal assets.

May 10, 2010 – Australian Trademark News »

Just days after news got out that the Federal Government had a new slogan “Australia Unlimited” it became apparent that Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd owns the trademark.

The clash has forced Austrade to submit a new trademark for a combined slogan and logo, both of which will be unveiled next Friday.

Apparently Austrade approached News Ltd for permission to use the slogan when the idea for Australian Unlimited was shortlisted. News Ltd secured the rights to use the Austalia Unlimited slogan more than a decade ago in order to symbolise the annual conference it holds in Melbourne to raise geopolitical issues.

After initially saying it had ”rights to use the winning concept”, the Trade Minister Mr Crean then issued another statement refuting the ”conspiracy theories” that the Australian government may be beholden to News Ltd.

News Limited spokesman Greg Baxter said the two parties had come to an agreement to allow the government to use the line – for which no money was exchanged – but that News Ltd wanted to continue to use the name for its conferences.

However, a legal expert, Robert Wulff of law firm Griffith Hack, said the breadth of News Limited’s trademark could leave the government open to potential legal action if News felt its trademark in Australia was being infringed.

Still have more questions? Give us a call or email us now.