Trade Mark Stories: How Small Businesses Protect Their Brands

Checking if your brand name or logo can be a registered trade mark is an important step in protecting your business.

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This article was written by IP Australia

Checking if your brand name or logo can be a registered trade mark is an important step in protecting your business. It can help you avoid infringing an existing registered trade mark and set you up for long-term success.

Even a small business can run the risk of needing to rebrand if they don’t check their brand identity early. They can also face litigation and the associated costs. Check out the numbers below:

Can your business learn from this story about the Sydney restaurant –Fat Duck?

Fat Duck opened in Sydney in 2011. Shortly after opening, the restaurant was required to relinquish their name and rebrand.

The need to rebrand was a result of celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal filing an application for trade mark protection. Intending to reserve and protect the name for his chain of fine dining restaurants, Heston’s company filed a claim in the Federal Court of Australia and won, having filed all the requirements for the trade mark rights.

The Fat Duck story demonstrates that if you haven’t protected your name or logo against competitors, you may run the risk of losing the rights to it.

Does this make you want to protect your business identity?

The new, free TM Checker tool helps you check if a trade mark is already registered. An initial check only takes a few minutes, then you can apply to register your proposed trade mark from $330.

Registering your trade mark gives you:

  • a business asset: the more successful your business becomes, the more valuable your trade mark becomes
  • the legal right to place the ® symbol next to your trade mark
  • exclusive rights to use your trade mark in Australia
  • the ability to legally deter others from using your trade mark
  • the ability to sell your trade mark, or license it for others to use.

Many small business owners are using TM Checker to help avoid losing their brand identity and having to regain products or market share. A registered trade mark can be used to protect many identifying features including name, logo, distinctive phrase, letter, number, colour, sound, smell, shape, picture and others.

Get started on protecting your business and try TM Checker now.

The story of SEO Shark: a digital marketing agency with a trade mark

SEO Shark is a marketing agency that specialises in search engine optimisation (SEO). In conversation with IP Australia, SEO Shark® explained that:

as competition grew, we knew in order to protect and differentiate the brand from other businesses we needed to trade mark the name….The SEO Shark trade mark is our identity – the way we show who we are to customers and this is something we don’t want another business to replicate.’ …We now have the name and logo of SEO Shark registered, meaning we can prevent other businesses in Australia using our trade marks”.

Their advice for other businesses looking to protect their brand is to understand the time and costs involved in applying for a trade mark. They may not be as much as you think! The cost of a trade mark is often assumed to be beyond the budget of a small business, but in total, the cost of protecting SEO Shark® was about $600 for ten years’ protection.

To read the full case study visit IP Australia’s website.

The story of Tutuby You: a kids’ brand protected by a trade mark and a design right

Tutu by You was launched in 2020 by business partners and cousins, Steph Young and Emily Murray. They wanted to create a brand for kids, and something that would bring much joy and happiness to the world. Their strategy for intellectual property (IP) protection was to protect what they could, with an emphasis on making sure they used the right type of protection.

Emily told IP Australia, “Protecting our IP is so important because it's everything, right? We've worked so hard on this. We've only launched six months ago, but we've been working on this for two and a half years. There were moments where we thought, 'Do we really need to spend that money to get that protected? Is anyone going to care about us? Are they really going to try and rip us off?'You just don't know. It's a risk. You've got to take it.”

Tutu by You wanted to protect their business name using a trade mark, and their unique 'sparkle band’ using a design right. They now feel confident in taking their products to market across all platforms because of their IP protection.

To read the full case study visit IP Australia’s website.

**Please note: These case studies are examples of the way some small businesses have chosen to manage their IP. These studies don't provide advice and your experience may be different.

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