Celebrities like Taylor Swift, Kylie Minogue and Kylie Jenner fiercely defend their brand names and have registered numerous trade marks. This proactive approach to intellectual property protection offers valuable lessons for small business owners. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Register Your Trade Mark To Get Important Legal Protection.

A trade mark is a sign used to help customers distinguish your products or services in the market. For example, your brand name or logo. Registering a trade mark grants you exclusive rights to use it for your goods or services within the country of registration. This means you have a legal avenue to stop others from using it for the same goods or services.

Consider the case of Katie Taylor, who astutely registered a trade mark for her sustainable clothing label, ‘Katie Perry’, in 2008. Despite facing a legal challenge from pop star Katy Perry, Taylor’s registered trade mark protected her brand, reinforcing her right to its exclusive use. This is an ongoing case, subject to appeal, but highlights the power of trade mark registration in brand protection for a business of any size.

  1. Monitor The Market For Trade Mark Infringement.

Celebrities often have legal teams to monitor the market and proactively address any trade mark infringement issues. A notable example is Kylie Minogue’s legal challenge against Kylie Jenner’s trade mark application for the name ‘Kylie.’ When Kylie Jenner sought to register a trade mark for her first name in the US, Kylie Minogue took legal action to protect her decades-long association with the name ‘Kylie.’ This dispute, which was settled out of court, highlights the importance of vigilant market monitoring to maintain brand integrity and exclusivity. 

To help maintain the integrity and exclusivity of a brand, it is important small business owners also monitor the market for potential infringements of their registered trade marks. Read more about monitoring at IP Australia.  

  1. Search For Existing Trade Mark Registrations Before Applying.

When selecting your branding, it’s important to search for existing trade mark registrations. This step helps to make sure your proposed mark is not already in use or registered by someone else and helps you avoid potential legal conflicts.

Taylor Swift, for example, has registered numerous trade marks internationally, including for her album ‘Evermore’. This registered trade mark was challenged in 2021 by Utah-based Evermore Park who said Swift had infringed the park’s registered trade mark. While the claim was later dismissed, the dispute highlights the importance of doing a thorough trade mark search before making branding decisions. 

In Australia, you can use IP Australia’s free tool TM Checker to check the potential registrability of your trade mark in Australia. 

  1. Consider Global Protection And Availability.

As celebrities gain international fame, they often seek trade mark registration in multiple countries. It can be important to search international trade mark databases to help ensure your potential trade mark is unique and protectable across different markets. The case of ‘The Fat Duck,’ a Sydney restaurant, is a cautionary tale. 

The Sydney restaurant faced legal challenges from celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal. Wanting to expand his business, Blumenthal filed a trade mark application for ‘Fat Duck’ in Australia. The absence of a registered trade mark for the Sydney establishment led to a rebranding mandate following Blumenthal’s victory in court.

While small businesses may not initially operate on a global scale, understanding international trade mark protection and the availability of trade marks globally is important, especially if there are plans for future expansion.

Trade mark registration is not just a strategy for big businesses; it’s an accessible and effective way for small businesses to protect their brand. The experiences of these celebrities offer valuable insights for small business owners, emphasising the need for proactive, strategic and vigilant approaches to trade mark protection. 

For more information on trade marks and other intellectual property, visit IP Australia.

If you would like a consultation on trademarks, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or team@sprintlaw.com.au for a free, no-obligations chat.

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