Protect Your Reputation – Brand it Right!
As a trade marks practitioner, Geraldine Rimmer has been assisting Australian brand owners since 2001.
In that time, she has seen many grow their businesses and leverage their brands by using trade marks and smart intellectual property protection strategies. Unfortunately, she has also seen many brand owners encounter problems that could have been avoided if appropriate advice and thorough due diligence was sought from the outset.
Speaking about the importance of brand reputation and protection, Geraldine recently presented at the WNA’s Gold Coast Networking Lunch.
She spoke about the best time to consider brand protection and how to enforce your trade mark once it is registered, as well as what exactly you should register.
Often, a trade mark forms only a small portion of an overall brand. Your brand may be represented by a very distinctive font, logo or distinctive colours. Your particular business ethos, product quality and customer service goals might also form part of your brand. Whilst these things are all very valuable from a marketing perspective, it’s likely not every element can – or should – be protected as a trade mark.
In recent weeks you may have heard about disputes such as Ikea vs Stylkeavs StyleAustralian Leather over and Deckers Outdoor International vs Australian Leather where local business owners have had to defend their brands against large multinationals.
Despite the apparent “ease” with which applicants can file their own trade marks, these cases highlight that it remains important to seek appropriate advice from a qualified expert who deals with these matters every day.
While doing your own research is definitely a good start, Geraldine recommends specialist trade mark searches be undertaken to determine whether there is a likelihood of conflict with a prior mark, so you can avoid situations like the above!
Good Trade Mark Habits
As you build your brand, it is a good idea to keep evidence of use including:
- Copies of invoices, business cards, stationary, packaging and advertising material showing trade mark use in relation to as many goods and services as possible, in as many states of Australia as possible.
- Keep details of advertising and promotional costs relating to trade marks; and
- Indicate that a trade mark is registered by using the ® symbol wherever the trade mark appears.
Preparing and progressing a trade mark application can often involve subtle issues that if ignored or not properly handled can reduce the value of the resulting registration.
If you have any concerns or would like assistance with securing trade mark protection, please contact Geraldine.