Can I Register a Trade Mark for a Word?
When you are setting up a business and establishing your brand, you may be struggling to decide what you can register as a trade mark. Unfortunately, there is often a lot of confusing information about what you can and cannot register for a trade mark. If you are registering a trade mark for your business’ name, chances are, it might be a single word. As long as it meets the general requirements for a trade mark, it is possible to trade mark a word. This article will take you through what words you can register as a trade mark, and what words you cannot register as a trade mark.
What Words Are Eligible for a Trade Mark?
1. Made Up Words
One great way to a single word approved for use as a trade mark is to make up a word. This is the easiest way to ensure you meet the distinctiveness requirement of a trade mark. Some of the most well-known brand names are entirely made up words, for example, ‘Google’ and ‘Kodak’.
Having a random word as a trade mark is also a great way to help your business stand out. It is unlikely that another business will have a similar name, making your brand completely unique.
2. Unusual Names
If you wish to trade mark your own name, you will be able to register it as long as it is unique. This is because if you have a common name, it is likely that others will need to use it within the same class of goods or services. This rule applies to first names and surnames, as well as the names of geographical locations.
What Words Cannot Be Trade Marked?
1. Descriptive Words
Words that describe your product or service are not eligible for a trade mark. This is because others with the same type of goods or service will also need to use that word in the course of business. A good example of this is Apple. If Apple were selling fruit, IP Australia would not accept their trade mark. However, because they are selling technology products, their brand name is not considered descriptive and can be used.
2. Abusive Words
Words that are abusive or are in any way considered rude or scandalous will not be capable of being trade marked. This includes words that are swear words or likely to offend specific ethnic or religious groups.
3. Generic Names
Generic names are not eligible for a trade mark, including common surnames such as ‘Smith’ or ‘Brown’. This is because others with the same name are likely to need to use it in the same category of goods or services. In addition, you will have more difficulty obtaining a trade mark for your name if someone famous has the same name as you. This is because it may be misleading about who is associated with or endorsing your goods or services.
As well as common family names, common names of places are also forbidden, such as the names of cities, towns, or suburbs. This is particularly pertinent where the location may be associated with the goods or services you are claiming, such as ‘Yarra Valley’ for wine.
When establishing your brand and choosing a trade mark, you may decide that you want to trade mark a single word. However, there are limits on the type of word that you can trade mark. Words that can are eligible for a trade mark include:
- made up, random words; and
- unusual names.
On the other hand, words that are not eligible for a trade mark include:
- descriptive words;
- abusive words; and
- generic names.
Registering a trade mark can be a complicated process. If you need help with the trade mark registration process, get in touch with our experienced trade mark lawyers. You can contact them on 1300 657 423 or by filling out the form on this page.
Frequently Asked Questions
Having a trade mark is a great way to protect your business’ brand. While unregistered trade marks give you some rights, registering your trade mark adds an extra layer of protection against competitors. Having your trade mark registered gives you enforcement rights over your trade mark, so you can prevent others from using your trade mark for their own benefit.
You can trade mark a word. However, there are restrictions on what words you can trade mark. To successfully register a trade mark for a word, you should use made up, unusual words that will satisfy the trade mark ‘distinctiveness’ requirement.