What can be trade marked?

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A question we often get asked by our clients is what can be trade marked?

It is a very valid question as there is often a lot of confusion around what can be subject to a trade mark.

So, lets look at what can be trade marked and what cannot.

What can you trade mark?

IP Australia is an agency of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and administers intellectual property rights and legislation relating to trade marks.

On IP Australia’s website, it states your trade mark, often called a brand, is your identity and shows your customers who you are.

It can be:

  • your corporate logo
  • a jingle you use in an advertisement
  • your business name painted on the side of your truck or your signage or packaging
  • a word (in a plain font or a ‘fancy’ font)
  • a phrase
  • a letter
  • a number
  • a logo
  • a picture
  • as aspect of packaging; or
  • any combination of the above

Some example of what could be described as non-traditional trade marks which requires special consideration when applying and if presented correctly can be registered are:

  • Smell trade marks
  • Colour trade marks
  • Sound trade marks
  • Shape trade marks

What can’t you trade mark?

A common misconception is that a trade mark is the same thing as a business name, company name or domain name. It is not.

Business and company names are registered through the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Domain names are issued by private internet companies to secure the web URL only and registered by the .au Domain Administration.

We are often asked about a design. A design refers specifically to the new visual features of shape, configuration, pattern, or ornamentation of a product.

It is important to note that some marks are very hard to register such as descriptive words. By way of an example, you could not register the word ‘chair’ in relation to chairs because it is too descriptive.

Also, some marks are protected under other legislation such as the ‘Red Cross’ emblem.

How can we help?

At FC Lawyers we have over 25 years’ experience assisting our clients with registering and protecting their trade marks. 

Contact our friendly and expert team for an obligation free quote and to discuss your intellectual property needs.

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