4 Steps to Register a Trade Mark to Protect My Business Slogan
When you hear the slogan ‘I’m lovin’ it’, you might instantly recall the look of a Big Mac or the shape of the golden arches. For many businesses, their slogans are integral to their brand identity. Where your business’ slogan can set your business apart from others in the market, you should consider registering your trade mark for formal protection. Put simply, trade mark registration provides you with the exclusive rights to use your slogan concerning your business goods and services. That means another person cannot use your slogan concerning similar goods and services without your permission. To register a trade mark to protect your intellectual property and slogan, you should consider the following steps.
1. Identify Your Intellectual Property
Intellectual property can exist in a variety of circumstances. For example, within your business, you might have developed a distinctive name, logo or slogan that makes up your business brand. You can protect these features that differentiate your business’ goods and services via trade mark registration, a type of intellectual property protection.
A registered trade mark gives you the exclusive right to use, license and sell your trade mark. This means that you can take legal action in the instance where someone misuses your trade mark.
You can register a slogan as a trade mark with IP Australia. However, your slogan must be capable of distinguishing your business’ goods and services. That is to say, if your slogan is generic, descriptive or lacking a distinctive quality, IP Australia might reject your application.
You should also note that IP Australia can reject your trade mark application if your slogan is either:
- descriptive or a commonly used description; or
- merely laudatory.
In any event, it would be wise to seek the advice of a trade mark lawyer. An experienced lawyer can assess whether your slogan is fit for registration and help you complete the appropriate registration process.
2. Classify Your Trade Mark
A registered trade mark can only protect the goods and services you include in your application and IP Australia approves. For example, say you run a dry-cleaning service and sell cleaning supplies. However, you only register a trade mark concerning the dry-cleaning services. In this instance, your slogan is likely only protected when you advertise these services.
To ensure that your registered trade mark comprehensively protects your business’ goods and services, you should consult the Trade Mark Classification Search. The search classifies common goods and services into 45 classes. For example, goods fall into classes 1 to 34, and services fall into classes 35 to 45.
To use the Trade Mark Classification Search, you should search for keywords that describe your business. When entering keywords, you should consider:
- the nature of your goods and services;
- how your business generates income; and
- how your customers recognise your business.
Although you might feel the urge to include multiple additional classes in your application to gain additional protection, you should generally avoid this unless you have a genuine intention to provide those goods and services. After all, the cost of your application will depend on how many classes you apply for. Additionally, having a trade mark that protects multiple classes can cause problems in the long run where competitors attempt to remove your trade mark for non-use.
3. Conduct a Trade Mark Search
Many business owners forget to check if their slogan is similar to an existing trade mark when applying for trade mark protection. After all, it is easy to believe that your slogan is one of a kind. However, there is a chance that another person has registered a similar trade mark concerning similar goods and services.
To find out whether this is the case, you should search the Australian Trade Marks Online Search System. Since IP Australia lists registered trade marks on a public database, you can search for your slogan on the database. If you find that a registered trade is identical or similar to your slogan, you may have to adjust your branding. If you encounter this situation, it would be wise to seek advice from a trade mark specialist.
4. Apply for Your Trade Mark With IP Australia
Once you have completed the above steps, you can lodge a trade mark application via IP Australia’s online services platform. In your application, you must provide:
- your personal details, including contact address;
- a representation of the trade mark such as an image;
- the classes of goods and services you intend to apply for; and
- the filing fee.
Beyond a standard trade mark application, you can also apply using a Headstart application. The Headstart application includes a pre-filing assessment of your application before you formally file it for IP Australia’s review. This allows you to amend or discontinue your application if you do not receive a favourable pre-filing assessment. Since either application involves different processes, their fees will differ. To find out more about trade mark applications, feel free to get in contact with one of our lawyers.
A registered trade mark can give you the exclusive right to use your business slogan. This means that you can prevent others from misusing your intellectual property and potentially damaging your reputation in the market. To register a trade mark, you should:
- identify the types of intellectual property in your business;
- classify your trade mark using the Trade Mark Classification Search;
- conduct a trade mark search to ensure no one has registered your slogan; and
- file a trade mark application with IP Australia.
Frequently Asked Questions
Generally, copyright does not protect names, titles, slogans or short phrases. For this reason, you should consider trade mark registration.
If your business slogan is not distinctive or is too descriptive, you should consider registering it alongside your business logo. Doing so could increase the distinctiveness of your slogan. In any event, it would be wise to seek a lawyer’s advice before filing another application, as it may be possible to overcome the objections raised by IP Australia.