A lot of effort and money goes into branding a business – coming up with the name, logo design, generating marketing material and so on.
Most people will do the usual business, company and domain name searches and if the name is available, they register. This is certainly a start, but this isn’t where the work should end.
Business, Company, Domain Search: Is It Sufficient?
These simple searches tell you whether the exact name you’ve punched in is already taken. They don’t tell you whether you’re potentially infringing on an existing trademark.
So, why is this a problem?
A practical example is REA Group Ltd v Real Estate 1 Ltd court case.
REA Group Ltd is the registered owner of ‘realestate.com.au’ and ‘realcommercial.com.au’ trademarks.
Real Estate 1 attempted to register the trademarks ‘realestate1.com.au’ and ‘realcommercial1.com.au’.
The Court found that there would be a real danger of confusion between REA’s trademarks and the trademarks Real Estate 1 sought to register as they were deceptively similar and had the capacity to confuse a potential consumer.
This constituted trademark infringement and the registration application was refused.
More Reasons to Trademark Your Business:
- Protecting your brand – because in the example above, you want to be REA Group Ltd who has a valuable monopoly.
- Money! Any prudent buyer or investor wants to know that their potential investment owns its own name and its trademark is protected. Trademarking adds value to your business.
What the Next Step?
From beginning to end, an unopposed trademark application takes at least 6 months.
We find for many start-ups, trademarking simply isn’t in the budget. This shouldn’t stop you from getting some initial legal advice around your brand and working out a plan with your legal advisor to start protecting it as soon as funds permit.
For existing businesses, if you are thinking of selling your business or approaching investors, be mindful that trademarking your brand doesn’t happen overnight.