March 14, 2018 | Moira McKenzie

A Trade Mark is designed to offer protection for a ‘sign’ denoting the origin of goods or services, which will be recognised by law following formal registration by IP Australia. A ‘sign’ can be a word, phrase, letter, slogan, number, sound, smell, shape, logo, picture, ‘aspect of packaging’ or a combination of these. A Trade Mark will also distinguish the goods and services of one trader from those of another trader operating in a similar field. The owner of a registered Trade Mark possesses the exclusive legal right to use, licence or sell the particular Mark within Australia in respect of the goods and services for which it is registered.

In order to deter entities from registering multiple Trade Marks and intentionally depriving others from use, a Trade Mark must actively be used in trade or it can be removed for non-use. Anyone wanting to challenge another entity for non-use may send an application to IP Australia, which will then send a notice to the entity being challenged in order to allow grounds for a defence of the proposed Trade Mark removal.

There may be instances where the trader applying may also need to protect its Trade Mark because of opposition. Common reasons for opposition are not limited to but may include similarities or prior reservations of another registered or pending Trade Mark, pending national protection from an international registration, likely deception or confusion because of the reputation of another national Trade Mark, or the Trade Mark applicant not being the true owner of the Trade Mark.

A Trade Mark registration will last for ten years from the date it was filed, and can be renewed 12 months prior to the renewal due date, or 6 months post renewal date. IP Australia will send traders a renewal reminder in writing to their current address, which is why it is important to constantly have this address up to date, as there are extra fees associated with renewals after the due date of renewal.