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?

There is nothing more disappointing than having a great new logo and then seeing someone else rip it off. Also, you want to ensure that no one else has a logo that is too similar to yours before you start using it – this can happen by coincidence, despite good intentions.

Sharon_Givoni_Brand_Lawyer

Brand Lawyer

Melbourne branding lawyer, Sharon Givoni gives you a run down of some of the most important things that you need to know about protecting your brand legally.

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Trade Mark

Trademarks are for words, symbols, devices or names that are used to distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from that of another.

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Registration

A registered trademark is designated with the symbol ®. With a registration, a trademark is protected against another company’s use of the name or image.

Tell IT Media does a great job at designing logos for brands and much time and thought is dedicated to the task at hand. The result is often a whole new look and feel that surrounds the brand and boosts its personality.

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

Knocking some misconceptions on the head

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.

Consider the following case study - “KLIKS” Dance Studio

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.

Don't get caught out!

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.

How do you “own” a brand name?

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.

What makes a strong trade mark?

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.

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