Why is Trademark Registration Important for Your Small Business?
You may have heard the term ‘trademark’ and you might be aware that to protect a trademark it needs to be formally registered. You might even recall that when you registered your first business name there was small print to advise you that the business names office accepts no liability in the event your chosen business name infringes a registered trademark.
It is especially important for small business owners to protect their trademarks through formal registration. Why?
Without a trademark, you are next to powerless in stopping others from using your material! The cost involved in taking action against someone when you don’t have trademark registration is huge and is quite limited;
Without a trademark, you have not been granted the right to use your brands, logos, slogans and similar. If another registered trademark owner feels your brands, logos and slogans are too similar to theirs the cost can be huge.
Small business owners have been forced to close down because costs involved with trademark infringement were too great.
Studies conducted several years ago found that for each trademark a business registered it increased its business lifespan by 2.2 years.
In a way, trademark tegistration is like ‘insurance’ for your brand names, logos and slogans. Smart businesses take out insurance policies that cover physical assets such as stock, furniture, equipment and the like, and insuring your intellectual property should be no different! Registered trademarks are saleable assets and it's common to see a higher sale value on the brand if it's ever sold than a similar unregistered brand would.
Registration of a trademark gives the trademark owner the right to:
a) Use the trademark registered for the goods and/or services nominated;
b) Authorise others to use the trademark for the goods and/or services nominated (i.e. license to other people);
c) Take action against other people when found to be infringing those rights.
Despite popular belief, federal trademark registration does not have to cost an arm and a leg. Attending to your own trademark registration can cost as little as $370.00, spread over two stages and securing your trademark protection for 10 years. In the greater scheme of things, that's nothing.
You should probably seek assistance in filing your trademark application, primarily to ensure it’s done correctly and covers as much as possible in one application to save time/fees in re-filing down the track if anything has been missed. Fees to employ an agent to attend to your trademark application will vary depending on the firm or company you choose. However, services are available that would see trademark registration for as little as $880.00 (including the above $370.00 government fee, professional fees and GST), again spread over two stages and securing protection for 10 years. The potential cost in having to defend yourself against infringement action (or take action without trademark registration) can start at around five grand simply to brief a barrister and receive their opinion. In fact, costs of $20,000 or more are not uncommon in formal mediation cases, and costs in excess of $50,000 are likely in full blown court actions!
So, when you think about it, trademark registration is a pretty inexpensive way to achieve peace of mind.
Author: Jacqui Pryor, Director of Mark My Words Trademark Services Pty Ltd.
Jacqui Pryor has more than 12 years of experience in Australian & International trademark registration matters, including opposition and infringement, and worked as a senior trademark consultant until starting Mark My Words Trademark Services. Jacqui’s passion is with small and start-up businesses; helping to ensure that businesses of all shapes and sizes have access to professional trademarking services. Jacqui would welcome any comments or questions via her website above or you can follow her blog at: http://mmwtrademarks.wordpress.com/