So we’ve designed a great new logo for you
The next question is: How can you protect it from copycats and own it legally?
Whether your new business name and logo is fun, serious, quirky or conservative there is one thing you can be assured of – it would be awful if you were to build up the business and its reputation only to find out one day that someone is copying your name and logo for a similar business. While this might not be a scenario you to like to envisage, it is common in the day-to-day world of business, especially at times when advertising budgets are cut and people are trying to take short cuts – hoping that they will not get caught out.
FAQs + Helpful Tips
Some people think that if you have a registered business name, company name or domain name then the actual brand name is protected. Not so.
If you have a distinctive name for your business (such as BRUMBY’S®, as opposed to the purely descriptive word “bakery”) you should seriously consider whether you can protect it as a registered trade mark.
Jane, from Victoria, had plans to open a dance studio called KLIKS. She applied for the business name and was thrilled when it was granted in the State of Victoria.
Excited by the success of her new business, she invested a large sum of money in getting a special logo and ordered expensive shop signage featuring her brand.
Business was booming and Jane was totally unaware of another existing business called KLICKS dance school which was trading in all other States of Australia. They had their trade mark registered. She was shocked to receive a letter of demand and even more surprised to learn from her lawyer when told that she would have to change her brand.
The name KLICKS has a C in it so it is different to Jane’s KLIK’s brand, but that doesn’t matter as it looks and sounds the same and confusion could arise.
While this particular case is a hypothetical, it is based on a real life scenario that I have seen happen in my legal career many times.
The most important lesson arising out of this case study is that business name registration does not give you ownership of the name.
Company names essentially fall into a similar category in that they are procedural. With domain names – all you have is a licence to use the name of a limited time frame – you do not own it.
The best protection that you can get for your brand is trade mark protection. There are no compromises.
You can never own a brand name for all goods and services.
This is because it would be unfair to stop others from using ordinary words which are part of ordinary English language. For example the word DOVE is registered as trade mark by different owners for soaps, furniture and also for tissues.
Pink Lady is registered for apples, for confectionery chocolates and for landscape gardening by three separate owners.
Picnic, SOLO, lifesavers are good examples of brand names which have become well known and are ordinary English words with meanings.
Invented words are even better as they are even more distinctive. Take FANTA, Twisties, VEGEMITE and MINTIES. These brands have become icons in their own right.
Sometimes combinations work well to and make the word more registrable if they are not descriptive.