Should My Nonprofit Trade Mark Its Name or Logo?
A nonprofit organisation can benefit from trade marking its name or logo, not only to protect its brand from being misused by other organisations but also to develop brand recognition. This article outlines:
- what a trade mark is; and
- three reasons why nonprofit organisations trade mark their names or logos.
If trade marks seem like the type of protection your nonprofit needs, this article will also summarise the process of registering a trade mark with IP Australia.
Trade Mark Basics
Trade marks are not just a business’ logo. For instance, in Australia, trade marks can protect:
- a business name;
- an aspect of a product’s packaging;
- a specific shape;
- a catchphrase;
- a colour; and
- any other branding that distinguishes your nonprofit.
A trade mark also provides you with the exclusive right to use, license and sell your trade mark.
Australian law recognises both unregistered and registered trade marks. The ‘™’ symbol usually identifies an unregistered trade mark. Whilst these trade marks are not registered, they enjoy some protection under the law. For this reason, organisations usually rely on unregistered trademarks to protect their name or logo whilst they are in the process of applying for a registered trade mark.
Your nonprofit can apply for a registered trade mark via IP Australia. A registered trade mark provides you with 10 years of protection with the option to renew. Once you register your trade mark, you can use the ‘®’ symbol to notify the public that your nonprofits name or logo is protected.
3 Reasons To Trade Mark Your Name Or Logo
Nonprofit organisations choose to trade mark their name or logo for a number of reasons. Below are the three main reasons why a nonprofit would trade mark registration for their name or logo.
Reason #1: Increasing Your Nonprofit’s Brand Awareness
Nonprofit organisations heavily rely on building their goodwill and reputation to increase brand awareness. Since an organisation’s reputation is usually associated with its branding, its name or logo must remain distinguishable from other nonprofits in the market. For example, Amnesty International’s signature logo, a lit candle wrapped in barbed wire, is registered as a trade mark with IP Australia. Trade marks can ensure that your nonprofit’s name or logo remains unique to your organisation and ensures that your organisation is instantly recognisable to consumers.
Reason #2: Legal Protection For Your Nonprofit
Since a trade mark gives you certain exclusive rights, you can enforce your rights in the instance where another person has committed trade mark infringement. Trade mark infringement occurs when someone misappropriates your trade mark without your consent. In the instance where your nonprofit owns a registered trade mark concerning its name or logo, your organisation can pursue legal action to protect its trade mark from being misused.
Reason #3: Adding Value To Your Nonprofit
People often overlook the value of intellectual property. However, for some organisations, their intellectual property is the most valuable asset that they own. For instance, where your nonprofit seeks to expand its operations and needs to acquire a loan, registered trade marks can be used as collateral to secure the loan. If you seek to merge with another organisation or sell your nonprofit, registered trade marks will also add value to your organisation.
Applying For A Trade Mark
You must apply for a registered trade mark with IP Australia via its online services. You can apply under a standard trade mark application or a TM Headstart application. The key difference between the two processes is that an examiner reviews your application before lodging it for trade mark registration under a TM Headstart application. On the other hand, a standard trade mark application is an official lodgement that is either accepted or rejected by IP Australia without any prior review.
Your trade mark application will require information on the following:
- your personal information;
- a description of the name or logo that your trade mark will protect;
- the type of trade mark you are applying for;
- a trade mark check to ensure that someone else has not already registered the trade mark; and
- the class of goods or services that your trade mark will apply to.
Before applying for a registered trade mark, you should conduct a trade mark search to ensure that your nonprofit’s name or logo has not already been trade marked. You can conduct a trade mark search via the Australian Trade Mark Search. It is important to closely follow the trade mark registration process as any amendments you need to make to your application will likely lead to delays and further costs.
Trade marks are a useful way of protecting a nonprofit organisation’s name or logo. For example, a registered trade mark can:
- help build your organisation’s brand awareness;
- add value to your nonprofit; and
- provide your organisation with legal avenues in the instance where someone has misused your trade marked name or logo.
If you need further legal assistance with registering a trade mark for your nonprofit organisation, our experienced IP lawyers can assist. Call us on 1300 544 755 or complete the form on this page.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is best to apply for a trade mark earlier rather than later. This can protect your organisation’s logo or name at the early stages of its operation.
There is a chance that two similar trade marks can coexist if they concern two different goods or services. If this problem arises, it would be wise to seek legal advice.
Trade mark registration costs range from $250 to $600. You can find a comprehensive breakdown of registration costs on IP Australia’s website here.