How Can Trade Marks Protect Industrial Machines?
Trade marks can provide you with invaluable protection over your industrial machines. Without trade mark protection, you risk exposing your brand and its associated goods to being misappropriated by others in the industry. To help you decide whether you should protect your industrial machines with a trade mark, this article outlines:
- what a trade mark is;
- the benefits of a trade mark; and
- how to register a trade mark under class 7.
What Is a Trade Mark?
Put simply, a registered trade mark provides you with the exclusive rights to use, licence and sell your mark. As a consequence, no one can freely use your trade mark without your permission. If they do so, you have the legal means to prevent them from further misappropriating your mark. What trade marks protect are the features of your brand that make it distinguishable from others in the industry. These features typically include your business or product:
- catchphrase or slogan; and
- distinctive packaging.
What trade marks do not protect are inventions or unique manufacturing methods. Instead, inventions are typically protected by registered patents. For example, the industrial machine you manufacture may be patentable. Nevertheless, you can still protect the brand associated with your industrial machine with a trade mark.
Benefits of a Trade Mark
There are wide-reaching benefits to protecting your industrial machine with a trade mark. However, a summary of three main benefits is in the table below.
|1. Trade marks protect your brand from being copied by industry competitors.||If someone misuses your trade mark or attempts to register a similar trade mark, you have the legal rights to prevent the person from doing so.|
|2. Trade marks assist in building your business’ reputation.||Since a business’ reputation is often closely associated with its name or logo, protecting these features of your business means that you can freely market your industrial products using your mark, therefore helping to develop your brand’s reputation.|
|3. Trade marks provide you with commercial opportunities.||Since trade mark owners have the exclusive right to licence their mark, you have the opportunity to tap into another stream of income by licensing your trade mark. Licensing refers to an agreement between you (the licensor) and another person (the licensee), where you allow the licensee to use your trade mark under certain conditions and for a negotiated fee.|
Trade Mark Registration
You should note that Australian trade mark law recognises both registered and unregistered trade marks. However, the law will only recognise an unregistered trade mark if you can establish that your:
- goods have accrued a sufficient reputation in the market; and
- trade mark is sufficiently recognisable as your brand by consumers.
To avoid having to prove this, you can apply for a registered trade mark. In the instance where IP Australia approves your application, your mark can enjoy 10 years of protection.
Choosing a Relevant Class
When you apply for a trade mark, you must register it in connection with a class of goods or services that fits your product description. For example, if you wish to trade mark your business’ logo and you manufacture automatic vending machines, you will need to consider class 7 of the Classification Search. Other goods included in class 7 include:
- machines and machine tools;
- motors and engines except for land vehicles;
- non-hand-operated agricultural implements;
- 3D printers;
- automatic pool cleaners;
- dairy machines; and
- electric domestic blenders.
As you can see, the goods relevant to class 7 are extensive. To ensure that the products your business manufactures are properly reflected in the class you specify in your application, you should conduct a thorough search of the Classification Search. Another way to ensure that your relevant product falls within your specified class is by using the Trade Mark Assist Tool. The program can help you identify relevant classes beyond class 7 that may apply to your business, based on the keywords you search.
Trade Mark Application
You must apply for a registered trade mark via IP Australia’s online services. When you apply you can use a standard form or a TM Headstart application. Using a standard form, you must generally provide:
- your personal information;
- a description of your brand that your trade mark will protect, i.e. your business name or logo;
- certification that you have completed a trade mark check to ensure that your intended trade mark has not already been registerd by someone else; and
- the class of services that your trade mark will apply to, i.e. class 7 on the Trade Mark Classification Search includes most industrial machines.
In addition to the requirements of a standard application, a TM Headstart application also provides you with an expert pre-assessment of your application before you formally submit it for IP Australia’s review. This way, an expert can identify any potential errors in your application and make amendments accordingly.
Trade marks can protect your business’ brand from being misappropriated by others, allow you to build your business’ brand reputation and provide you with the opportunity to commercialise your trade mark. If you need help with registering an industrial machines trade mark, contact our experienced trade mark lawyers on 1300 657 423 or fill out the form on this page.
Frequently Asked Questions
IP Australia is a national agency that administers intellectual property rights. Amongst many things, they review trade mark applications and maintain the Trade Mark Register.
The cost of a standard trade mark application depends on how many classes you include in your application. An application will cost $250 per class included.