Having a registered trademark is a great way to protect your business’ intellectual property. Even though copyright automatically applies to your ideas that are presented in material form, registering a trademark is a good extra step to take. 

However, a common question we get is, “Do I need to use the registered trademark symbol?”.

The simple answer here is no, not really. But it’s a great idea if you want to make it clear to your customers and any other parties that you engage that your IP is protected by the law. It also makes your business look more put together, and shows people that you’re serious about your stuff. 

But first thing’s first – what exactly is trademarking?

How Does Trademarking Work?

Trademarking is a function of intellectual property. The scope of what can consist of a trademark is extremely broad. However, if it makes your brand distinguishable from others then it could be a potential trademark. 

For example, businesses might want to trade mark their logo or a specific colour. This helps distinguish their brand from other similar businesses, and potential competitors. 

Once a trademark is registered, it provides protection for 10 years for the owners of the trademark. Essentially, trademarking gives you the ownership of that logo or name and prevents others from using it in the same capacity. 

What Is The Registered Trademark Symbol?

The registered trademark symbol is the ® symbol. It’s extremely prevalent yet small enough not to take away from the logo. 

It’s a great idea to use this symbol if you want to show that your IP is protected and registered as a trade mark with IP Australia

How Do I Register A Trade Mark?

Registering a trade mark is a rather long process that should always be done with the help of a legal professional to ensure you are not wasting your time and resources. Trademark registration is done through IP Australia.  

Firstly, you will need your trademark and then a search of the register will let you know whether it’s available. Next, you will need to go through the application process which will be examined. 

Finally, if everything with the application checks out, the trademark will be advertised for two months. If it does not face opposition during this time, the trademark is yours. 

How Do I Use The Symbol?

Like we mentioned before, you don’t actually have to use the registered trademark symbol. This might be the care where you feel that the symbol doesn’t look as great with your logo. 

There is no obligation to use it. On the other hand, using the registered trademark symbol when you don’t have a registered trademark is against the law. 

If you decide to use the symbol, it will be placed immediately after the logo. 

Example
Let’s say Leslie has opened a store that sells her special, home made chocolates.  As she prides her business on its sustainable practices, she chooses a trademark that resembles nature and seeks a lawyer to help her out with the registration process. 

After waiting for several months, Leslie’s trademark is finally ready! She’s eager to put it on her packaging but finds the registered symbol gives it too much of a ‘corporate look’. She isn’t too keen to be displaying this as it conflicts with her branding. So, Leslie calls her lawyer and asks if it would be okay for her to use the trademark without using the symbol. 

The lawyer gives her the green light and Leslie moves forward with her newly trademarked logos.

What Happens If I Make My Brand Global?

If you want to conduct business overseas, you won’t be able to use your registration with IP Australia. So, your Australian trademark cannot be used internationally. Instead, you’llou’ll need to Register An International Trademark for the countries you want to operate in. 

For example, you may need to register your trademark with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). Through a single application, you can register in up to 122 countries. 

Example
Hannah wants to take her publishing business global. Her business is rather established and well known in Australia, but she’s ready to expand to North America. Hannah looks into getting her logo trademarked out there, however, she discovers that she can’t do this due to there being another logo that is too similar. 

After consulting a legal professional, Hannah is advised to keep the logo as it is but add ‘Australia’ on the right hand side, indicating the country of origin for her business. 

Key Takeaways

Generally, you do not need to use the registered trademark symbol next to your trademark. However, it is a great addition to your brand if you want to make it clear that your IP is legally protected. 

Ultimately, trademarking is a long process that could be both rewarding and essential to your business. 

Trademarks themselves are broad concepts and if you’re thinking about getting one or need advice on the trademark you already have, our lawyers are here to help. 

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

About Sprintlaw

Sprintlaw is a new type of law firm that operates completely online and on a fixed-fee basis. We’re on a mission to make quality legal services faster, simpler and more affordable for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

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