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Hi Silvid,

Best of luck to you in launching your new business! I am a Registered Trade Mark Attorney and a Solicitor with 10 years experience – you have cleverly not released the details of your new venture online which is great for you – but a bit harder for me to offer any guidance but here goes:

There are 3 systems of “Intellectual Property” (IP) registration in Australia – with copyright (the lovely ©) being granted automatically to the creator as soon as any creative works are made into a material form! In a nutshell:

* Trade Marks protects the “branding” aspects and actually includes all “signs” that you may use to promote your business including words, logos, slogans, shapes, colours, sounds and scents! You can use TM’s publically before seeking any protection and in fact you can have “a common law trade mark” but these are hard to prove & enforce (court action is required if problems arise).

* Patents protect the function of any new inventions (eg pharmaceuticals & new technology) and/or methods or processes (incl business processes if unique enough) of doing something but these need to involve “an inventive step” and be new and unique so not something logical that anyone could have come up with – you must keep these a secret before trying to protect as using it in public or telling someone outside of a “confidentiality undertaking” will void any protection you might be able to obtain

* Designs protect the appearance/ look of something and commonly includes shapes of products (eg toasters & kitchen items), styles of clothing or objects and even the look of materials or patterns (eg Burberry & tartans) – like patents you need to get your protection in place before you use the design publically or you void obtaining any protection.

Why think about Trade Marks?

Many businesses get caught out in thinking that their Business or Company name or domain name gives them “rights” to the name and they can stop others from using a similar name. This is a myth, Trade Mark Registrations are the only way to gain proprietor rights (as in you will own that “sign” once registered) and will help you enforce your rights quicker & easier in your chosen classes.

While self-filing or using the assisted filing service is relatively easy and affordable, sometimes you might be gaining the wrong type of protection as goods & services are broken into 45 different categories – with 11 classes for “services” and 34 classes for goods “items”. Mind boggling huh? For example business services (including retail services) fall into class 35 but if you are designing or creating something then these are class 42, if you are repairing or installing something these are usually class 37, printed goods (books, stationary & paper/plastic items) are in class 16 and the list goes on. I also ask Q’s to find out how you intend to make your money then make a recommendation on the suitable classes!

So even though you can file yourself (say $530 per class using the AFS option), it can be a complex process at the same time – how do you know if your mark is registrable? How do you know if there is something identical or deceptively similar is already out there? What do you do if an objection is raised? How do you know you are claiming the right classes for your proposed goods/services?

A Trade Mark professional can help you secure maximum protection for a reasonable price and help even at the conception stage by checking if your proposed name is even available – you don’t want to risk falling foul of the law and infringing another’s trade mark before you even start to recover your costs!. Infringement could cost you hundreds of thousands v a reasonable price for 10 years protection from $1,300 (in one class plus $685 for each additional classes – assuming no objections are raised)

I have a lot of FREE information available on my website http://www.markyourterritory.com.au includin flowcharts and FAQ’s and I send out tips each day on Twitter as The_TM_Chick. I also offer complimentary 30 min initial meetings as well if you were interested in learning more.

If you’ve got any general Q’s pls feel free to drop me a line!

aka. The_TM_Chick / Registered Trade Mark Attorney