WNA Blog

Fri 28 Jun 2019

Do I need a trade mark? I already have a domain/business name/company name!

Legal Services
You may know that trade marks are the part of a brand you can say or describe.  Common examples are a name (Nike®) or a logo (the “swoosh”).  But did you know that the only way to secure *exclusive* use of a brand is to register it as a trade mark?

Hang on – isn’t my domain, business name or company name enough?

Unfortunately not!  Registration of a domain, business name, company name or social media handle doesn’t provide exclusive rights in that name:

  • Company names identify legally incorporated entities. However, a company may choose to trade under a name other than its registered company name (e.g. XDE Holdings Pty Ltd)
  • Registered trading names or business names can be used instead of a full legal entity name (e.g. XDE Designs Pty Ltd might trade as XDE Design)
  • Domain names provide exclusive right to use a website address. Registration of a domain name doesn’t give the owner any rights in the name separately from the website address.

Only a valid trade mark registration can stop other traders from using confusingly similar brands.

Even if you successfully register a company name, business name or domain name, you might still find yourself on the receiving end of a nasty letter if you use the domain, company or business name for goods or services the same as or close to those already covered by a registered trade mark. It’s really important to make sure a domain, business or company name doesn’t infringe a registered trade mark.

… I’m not convinced…

Imagine you’ve designed your marketing materials and paid for awesome signage or web presence, only to find out that you’re infringing someone else’s trade mark!

A valid trade mark registration will give you comfort that your chosen brand is available for use without infringing someone else’s rights. Just as importantly, your trade mark registration can stop other traders using a confusingly similar name in respect of similar goods or services as your trade mark registration covers.

The clincher?  A trade mark registration will give you the ability to licence use of the trade mark in respect of the goods or services identified in the registration – this will be important as your business grows.  And looking even further ahead, a trade mark registration is a saleable asset – a clear value-add to any business.

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