Can You Trade Mark Your Initials?
When trying to grow your business and establish your brand, it is important to consider your trade mark options. This may include trade marking your initials. Many famous brands are known by their initials. For example, BMW is far catchier than Bavarian Motor Works and Louis Vuitton’s famous LV monogram is a primary element of their branding.
To help you navigate the process of choosing your trade mark, this article will take you through whether you can trade mark your initials and the requirements you will need to satisfy to be successful in your application.
Trade Marking Initials
Trade marks can take a number of forms. For example, a trade mark may be a:
- packaging shape;
- song; or
- any combination of the above.
The variety of trade mark options means that it is possible to trade mark almost anything. This includes your initials. However, this is subject to your initials meeting all the requirements of a trade mark.
Trade Mark Requirements
As with any trade mark, your initials will need to be distinctive to be eligible for trade mark protection. This is because the purpose of a trade mark is to demonstrate its origin, allowing consumers to recognise it as belonging to a particular business.
To check if your initials are not already being used by someone else, you will need to conduct a search. If you are applying to register your trade mark in Australia, you can use IP Australia’s Trade Mark Online Search System (ATMOSS) tool.
The very nature of initials means that they are common. This will make it more difficult to satisfy the distinctiveness requirements. For this reason, including your initials as part of a highly stylised logo, as opposed to trade mark them as a word, will make it easier to be successful in your application.
2. Not Deceptively Similar
As well as your trade mark not being used by someone else, it must not be deceptively similar to another. Again, the trade mark class system will help avoid this.
Trade mark classes are 45 different classifications of goods and services to choose from. The class you choose is important because it will protect your trade mark only in that category. In addition, this class system allows for two similar trade marks operating in unique markets to not infringe upon each other’s rights.
3. Not Descriptive
Additionally, trade marks cannot describe their goods or services or refer to commonly used words or phrases related to their purpose. Similarly, you cannot register acronyms or letters commonly used in relation to goods as trade marks. This means if the initials you wish to trade mark are commonly used in your industry, they will not meet the trade mark requirements.
It is also not possible to trade mark common names. This is because others with the same name are likely to need to use it in the same category of goods or services. Satisfying this requirement may be difficult, as your initials may need to be used by others in the same industry as you and your trade mark will impact their ability to do that.
It is possible to trade mark your initials. However, this is subject to the letters meeting the general trade mark requirements. Before applying for trade mark registration, you should consider whether your trade mark is:
- distinctive from other trade marks;
- not deceptively similar to another trade mark; and
- not descriptive of your goods or services.
If you need help trade marking your initials, or have more general trade mark related queries, our experienced IP lawyers can help. Get in touch with them on 1300 657 423 or by filling out the form on this page.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, it is possible. This is subject to your initials meeting all the requirements for a trade mark, such as the distinctiveness requirement. While it may be difficult to prove that your initials are distinctive, incorporating them into a logo might make this easier.
As with all trade mark applications, if you wish to trade mark your initials, you will need to meet the trade mark requirements. This includes ensuring that your trade mark is distinctive from other trade marks, not deceptively similar to another trade mark and not descriptive of your goods or services.