Can I Register a Trade Mark for a Number?
If you are building your business and establishing your brand, you might already be considering what elements of your intellectual property (IP) you want to register as a trade mark. This can give rise to many questions about what is eligible for a trade mark. To help you navigate the trade mark process, this article will take you through if you can register a trade mark for a number and the requirements to do so.
Can Trade Marks Include Numbers?
In short, yes. It is possible to register a trade mark for a number. Trade marks can take many forms. As well as numbers, trade marks may also be a:
If a number is a part of your brand and it meets all the requirements for a trade mark, it will be possible to trade mark it.
When Are Numbers Not Eligible for a Trade Mark?
Not Sufficiently Distinctive
To register a trade mark for a number, it will need to be distinctive. This is because the very purpose of a trade mark is to demonstrate its origin to identify it as part of a certain brand. This is why you cannot trade mark something that is already in use.
To check if a number is available for use, you will need to conduct a trade mark search. You can do this through IP Australia’s Trade Mark Online Search System (ATMOSS) tool. This free to use search tool will help you determine if your number is distinctive and therefore free for your use.
Trade marks must not be descriptive, and this extends to using a number. A descriptive trade mark refers to a trade mark that describes the product or service it is used for. For example, trade marks for food will not be able to describe the quality of the product (e.g. ‘fresh apples’). This is because other businesses with similar goods require the unrestricted use of these phrases, and a trade mark would prevent them from doing so. The same rule applies when registering a trade mark for a number.
For example, if you are registering a trade mark for a four-wheel drive car, you will not be able to register ‘4×4’ because these numbers will need to be used by others in the industry. Similarly, clothing brands will not be able to register clothing sizes because other businesses need to use these numbers.
Trade marks are not allowed to be deceptively similar to another trade mark, and this extends to number trade marks as well. A trade mark is deceptively similar to another trade mark if they are similar enough to deceive or cause confusion to consumers.
When applying to register a trade mark, you will need to consider what ‘class’ you wish to use your trade mark in. An internationally recognised trade mark classification system known as the Nice system organises these classes. There are 34 classes of goods to choose from and 11 classes of services. The trade mark class you choose is important because IP Australia will protect your trade mark only under the goods and services classes you have chosen.
When deciding if two trade marks are deceptively similar, your trade mark class will be significant. Two similar trade marks in completely different classes of goods and services are not likely to lead to confusion. On the other hand, similar trade marks operating in the same trade mark class are more likely to have the potential to deceive customers. For example, the drink ‘7UP’ has a number component to it. Attempting to register the number 7 for another drink will likely be difficult because of this, while registering the number 7 for electronics will be easier.
It is possible to register a trade mark for a number as long as it meets the general trade mark requirements. Before attempting to register a trade mark for a number, you should consider whether your trade mark is:
- not descriptive; and
- unique from existing trade marks.
Frequently Asked Questions
The requirements to trade mark a number are the same as all other trade mark applications. This includes ensuring that your trade mark is distinctive from other trade marks, not descriptive, and not deceptively similar to an existing trade mark.
A trade mark search is a great way to check if your trade mark is available for use. In Australia, you can do this using IP Australia’s Australian Trade Mark Online Search System (ATMOSS) tool. This is a free search tool that will allow you to see any identical or similar trade marks to yours that will prevent your trade mark from being registered.