If you’re thinking of starting a business, or are currently starting one, odds are that you’ve already done plenty of research into what steps are required and you’ve begun ticking them all off.
First, you have an amazing business idea, a lot of fire and passion – you’re off to a great start! Next you launch a website and register a business name with ASIC , register for GST and get yourself an ABN
You have done your due diligence and soon you’re launching your amazing idea and actually trading. While you think everything is done, there is one little step that most people miss when setting up a business and it can cost you thousands.
That step is trademarking your business name and logo. Every year many businesses that haven’t trademarked have to deal with big bills and a whole lot of headaches.
It’s a form of brand protection which distinguishes between your products or services and those belonging to your competitors. It can be a name, symbol or logo that gets associated with your business and can become an extremely powerful asset.
“Trademark law governs the use of a device (including a word, phrase, symbol, product shape or logo) by a manufacturer or merchant to identify its godsend to distinguish those goods from those made or sold by another.”
Registering your business name with ASIC is required to run a business in Australia, though they don’t stop others from using the same or similar name. This is where the importance of trademarking comes in as trademarking turns your name or logo into the business’ Intellectual Property, rather than just something you’re using for branding.
The process is fairly simple and is done online through IP Australia costing about $250 per class. The trademark needs to be registered in each country that you sell a product or have, which can seem tedious but can have a big benefit! With a registered trademark it gives the company exclusive rights to operate and market under said trademark.
This lesson was learnt the hard way by myself, a mum with a whole lot of passion and determination and zero business knowledge. After launching my business in 2016 I was focused on what I was creating and surviving the basics of business. That was until we received correspondence from another company in the same field stating we needed to cease the use of the trademark due to their prior registration – which occurred after our launch.
I should mention that when we created the trademark/logo our due diligence was done and there was no company with a similar trademark in the marketplace. This legal battle has since been going on for over two years. The question that now needs to be decided upon is who has right of use: the first to register the trademark or the first user in a commercial sense? We were so focused on the fabulous product and that we simply forgot to protect the part that is the actual back bone of the business.
For example, when you think about Coca Cola, what image did you see? Is it the actual product or is it the iconic red and white logo? For most of society, the first thing that comes to mind is the logo that has been associated with what we now call ‘Coke’… and this isn’t surprising because as humans, we tend to associate products with their trademark/logo.
The ongoing IP battle has costed our business valuable time and money that we may struggle to get back. It is a lesson for anyone starting a business that it is almost always worth it to protect your trademark: logo and name, and it is often not enough to just register your business name with ASIC. In doing so you are protecting one of the most important components of your business! _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
About the Author
Written by Joanne Shepherd, in collaboration with the Studio42 Editors.
A Mum of 3 (21, 4 and 1) who is extremely passionate about helping Mums to stay active no matter what stage we are at. Exercise is a way for Mums to give a bit back to themselves. I currently am still teaching 2 days a week and are balancing the business needs amongst that. Mummactiv was born out of a desire to help Mums and my creativity was ignited due to seeing a gap in the market – wanting to combine fashion and function. Our product line is sold all over the world and we have stockists all over Australia in the UK and USA. Mummactiv is a one stop shop for pregnancy and nursing activewear.