Tips For Protecting My Band’s Intellectual Property
After all the time and effort you have put into producing music, it would be worthwhile considering how you can prevent others in the music industry from misusing your band’s intellectual property. Helpfully, trade mark law can provide your band with the protection it seeks. This article outlines how your band can benefit from protecting its name through trade mark rights, and some useful tips for undergoing trade mark registration.
Trade Mark Protection
Put simply, a registered trade mark protects the features of a brand that make it distinguishable. This can range from your band logo to your band name. Some notable bands who have registered their name as a trade mark include:
- The Beatles;
- AC/DC; and
- Fleetwood Mac.
As the owner of a registered trade mark, you gain the exclusive rights to use, licence and sell your mark. This means that in the instance where someone uses a similar or identical mark when providing entertainment services, you can prevent the other person from infringing on your trade mark rights. On this basis, trade mark registration can allow your band to build its reputation within the music industry without fear of another band copying your name.
Trade Mark Registration
Although trade mark registration may seem like a complicated process at first, it is much more manageable if you break it down.
1. Conduct a Trade Mark Search
Before you register your trade mark, you need to consider whether someone has already registered it. This is because the Trade Marks Office is unlikely to register two similar or identical trade marks. So although your band name or logo may be personal to you, there is a chance that a similar or identical trade mark already exists.
To ensure you do not apply for a pre-existing mark, you should search for the details of your proposed mark in the Trade Mark Register. If a similar mark appears, there is still a chance that you can register your mark if it exists in a different industry. For example, a similar trade mark might exist in the raw materials industry. However, the Trade Marks Office might find that this mark can coexist with your mark in the entertainment industry.
If you are unsure about whether your mark is registrable, it is best to consult a trade mark lawyer. This will save you money and the effort of applying for a trade mark if it already exists. This way, you can have greater reassurance that you have completed the registration process properly.
2. Trade Mark Classes
Trade marks are registered in connection with different classes of goods and services. The picklist is a classification system that groups goods and services that registered trade marks commonly protect. This means that in your trade mark application, you must identify which goods and services your trade mark will apply to.
As a band, the class which may be most relevant would be class 41 which includes entertainment services. However, it would be wise to consider whether your trade mark should protect other aspects of your band, like its sale of physical records or other forms of merchandise. This might mean that you include additional classes in your application to protect these goods and services.
You should note that your registered trade mark can only protect the class of goods and services you have included in your application. Consequently, you must consider every aspect of your band to ensure that your trade mark provides you with the most comprehensive protection.
3. Trade Mark Registration
To register your trade mark, you can apply to IP Australia’s Online Services. In your application, you must include:
- the personal information of the trade mark owner or owners if your band members decide to own the mark collectively;
- a representation of your band name or logo you wish to protect via registered trade mark;
- the class or classes of goods and services that you intend your trade mark to protect; and
- a description of the goods and services your band offers.
Once you submit your application for IP Australia’s review, you can only make minimal amendments. For example, you can apply to remove a certain class of goods and services but cannot include additional classes. For this reason, you must take the time to complete your application and make all business considerations before submitting it. As mentioned above, if you are in doubt at any stage of the process, you should consult a trade mark lawyer.
Trade marks can protect the features of your band that make it distinguishable in the entertainment industry. As the owner of a registered trade mark, you have the legal means to prevent others from misusing your band name or logo. To apply for a registered trade mark, you should:
- conduct a trade mark search to ensure that someone else has not already registered your proposed mark;
- identify the most suitable trade mark classes to ensure your trade mark adequately protects your band; and
- take time to fill out the requirements of a standard trade mark application.
Frequently Asked Questions
Once recorded, the music your band produces is protected under Australian copyright law. Copyright law prevents others from copying your original work without your permission. In Australia, copyright protection does not require registration like a trade mark. Instead, copyright applies automatically when original works are recorded and put into a material form.
Under a standard application, your trade mark application will cost $250 per class of goods and services you include in your application.