Business Name and Logo: High Value Assets
Given one of the essential assets of many businesses, particularly those operating within the franchising industry is their business’s trade name and logo/s, it cannot be underestimated how important it is to ensure the relevant name/s and logo/s have been sufficiently legally protected.
Over the years I have seen many people believe that if they register a business name or the company name then they have sufficient legal protection over the trade name and logo/s – this is not true!
While there a few protection strategies, one of the best will always be ensuring that your trade name and any central logos and marks connected to your business are registered as trade marks in the relevant classes of goods and/or services that they may be used with respect to.
Australia like many other countries has its own trade marking system, which can take from a number of months to years to get from the application to registration stage, and registration is not always guaranteed. Saying this, it is relatively simple to check what trade marks are registered and/or have been applied for, and where registration is successful, registration protection is backdated to the application stage. Consequently, some investigations at the beginning can let you know whether there are any likely roadblocks and work out actions plans to deal with this.
There are also various ways to speed up processes, and it should be noted that registration in Australia does not automatically mean registration in other countries. Again there are tricks and traps to getting trade mark protection in other countries that may need to be looked at the same time as when going through any registration process in Australia.
I have seen franchisors who have lost sales and opportunities when unable to prove their rights as well as those who at great cost and embarrassment have had to change their name and logo (and any materials where this appears) when unable to get registration and/or having to face an infringement action from someone with better rights. As you can imagine where the franchisor already has franchisees, this has a direct flow on effect to their franchisees.
Consequently, given the value a brand has, you should never assume you are protected and should do regular checks to ensure your assets are protected now and into the future for the activities you are or are about to undertake.
Please note this does not purport to be comprehensive advice relevant to your circumstances. Consequently, specific legal advice for each of your circumstances should be obtained first before taking or not taking any action in respect to this area.