Tips for Registering a Musical Instrument Trade Mark
You can use a registered trade mark to protect your brand from being misused by others in the music industry. A registered trade mark protects the features of your brand that make it distinct from your competitors. In addition, it provides you with the exclusive rights to use, license and sell your mark. This means that you can freely market your musical instruments without worrying that you will not be able to take action if someone copies your mark. This article outlines five useful tips to help you register a musical instrument trade mark.
1. Choosing the Correct Trade Mark Classes
In your trade mark application, you must register a trade mark in connection with a specific class of goods and services that you are providing. The Trade Mark Classification system groups goods and services under different classes that are commonly protected by trade marks. In your trade mark application, you must choose which trade mark class reflects the goods and services your business provides.
If you are in the business of selling musical instruments, class 15 would likely be the most applicable. Some of the goods included in class 15 are:
- electronic musical instruments like mechanical pianos;
- musical boxes;
- brass, percussion, woodwind and string instruments; and
- accessories for instruments like guitar picks and music stands.
You should still do a thorough search of the Trade Mark Classification Database even if the goods that your business sells clearly falls under class 15. Often, one trade mark application can involve multiple classes. Your trade mark can only protect the classes IP Australia approves in your application.
For example, if your business sells electric guitars and amplifiers but only registers a trade mark under class 9 relating to amplifiers, your trade mark cannot protect your brand when marketing your guitars.
Therefore, you should consider other classes which may be relevant to your business. These classes may include:
- class 9, which includes apparatuses for recording music;
- class 16, which includes books and sheet music; and
- class 41, which includes music composition and live performances.
By identifying all the relevant trade mark classes from the outset, you can save yourself from the additional costs of reapplying for a registered trade mark. Once you submit your trade mark application, you cannot change it to include additional classes. Instead, you will have to submit a new application.
2. Utilise the Trade Mark Assist Tool
You can make the trade mark application process a lot simpler by using the Trade Mark Assist Tool. This is a program developed by IP Australia to help trade mark applicants when deciding which trade mark classes suit their business.
The Tool provides a step-by-step guide through the different requirements of the application process. In addition, it can help you identify classes you may have overlooked.
3. Compare Your Competitor’s Trade Mark
Your competitors in the entertainment industry are likely to have registered trade marks. Since the Trade Mark Registry is publicly available, you can freely search their trade marks to compare which classes they have included in their application. Although your businesses may not be identical, this can give you a good idea of what trade marks are being used in the entertainment industry. This can help you make a better-informed decision when registering your trade mark.
4. Conduct a Trade Mark Search
Before registering your trade mark, you should search the Trade Mark Register to ensure your proposed trade mark has not already been registered. Often, applicants will apply for trade marks that are similar or even identical to pre-existing registered trade marks. These applications can result in IP Australia rejecting your application or facing opposition proceedings from a third party. To avoid rejection or opposition, you should conduct a comprehensive search of the Register to ensure that you are not infringing on someone else’s trade mark rights.
5. Consider Using a TM Headstart Application
There are different applications business owners can use when applying for a registered trade mark. One option is a standard trade mark application. This application requires you to include:
- your details;
- a description of your trade mark, and
- the trade mark classes you wish to register your trade mark in connection with.
Alternatively, you can opt for a TM Headstart application. Under a TM Headstart application, a delegate at IP Australia will review your application before you formally submit it for IP Australia’s review. Ultimately, the delegate can identify any potential errors in your application. This will provide you with enough time to make any changes necessary to submit an application in good form for registration.
When registering a musical instrument trade mark, you should:
- identify the relevant classes on the Trade Mark Classification search to include in your application;
- compare your application with registered trade marks in the music industry to see the classes they have protection under; and
- search the Trade Mark Register to ensure you are not applying for a mark that is similar or identical to a pre-existing mark.
Frequently Asked Questions
From the date IP Australia advertises your trade mark application as accepted on the Register, any person has one month to oppose the registration of your application. They must base their opposition on one or a number of the reasons listed in the Trade Marks Act.
This depends on the number of classes included in your application. A standard trade mark application will cost $250 per class included. If you opt for the TM Headstart pre-service, this will cost $200 per class included.