What Is a Trade Mark?

A trade mark is a registered brand and is used to identify a unique product or service such as a business name or logo.

It formally protects your intellectual property. To protect your logo, you must first register it with IP Australia as a trade mark. 

It can protect a:

  • word or phrase
  • logo or symbol
  • letter or number
  • sound
  • shape
  • image

By having a registered trade mark, you can enforce your rights to its exclusive use and prevent others from using your intellectual property without your permission.

A trade mark is not the same thing as a company name, business name or domain name. However, you can have exclusive rights to your business name by protecting it with a trade mark.

Should I Trade Mark or Copyright?

Trade marks & copyright are basically different forms of protection of intellectual property. In some cases, copyright and trademarks will overlap.

Generally, you will be better off registering your logo as a trade mark. However, if your logo is your own artistic creation, you may automatically receive a copyright.

How do I trade mark my logo?

Applications for Trade marks in Australia can be made online through IP Australia. You’ll need to provide a variety of information, including:

  • Your personal or company name and contact details
  • Representation of the Trade mark (word, logo, tagline, etc.)
  • Description of the goods and/or services to which it will apply
  • Category (or ‘Class’) of goods and/or services for which you are applying, and
  • Translation/transliteration of any part of your mark that is in another language

It is important that your application is accurate or you risk not getting the protection that you need.

Did You Know?

The first trade mark legislation was passed by the Parliament of England under the reign of King Henry III in 1266, which required all bakers to use a distinctive mark for the bread they sold.

The oldest registered trademarks | Logo Design Love

What is Copyright?

Copyright is an automatic right granted to its creator upon the creation of a new piece of artistic work. 

These works can include, but are not limited to:

literary work;
choreography; or
software programs.

Did You Know?

A registered trade mark gives you exclusive rights to use, license and sell the mark.

This means no one else in Australia can commercially use your trade mark for the same goods or services you have it registered for.

Check if your trade mark is available

Before applying for a trade mark, you should do a search to make sure the trade mark you want isn’t already registered.

IP Australia’s free trade mark checker tool gives you an indication of existing trade marks that might be similar to your proposed brand or name. From there you can apply to register your trade mark.

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