So, you have a registered trade mark for your business or your products that you sell within Australia. Your business is very popular, and you are thinking of expanding overseas. Will your trade mark or copyright protection still be valid internationally?

What Is A Trademark And Why Is It Important?

The World Intellectual Property Organisation defines a trade mark as ‘a distinctive sign which identifies certain goods or services as those produced or provided by a specific person or enterprise’. A trade mark must be capable of representing the subject matter of protection, as well as capable of distinguishing goods or services.

A trade mark is usually registered by a person who wishes to distinguish their goods from competitors. Famous Australian trade marks include the Qantas kangaroo and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s logo.

Trade marks can take multiple forms, for example; words, names, slogans, logos, packaging, shapes, colours, sounds and even scents.

A registered trade mark provides the owner with exclusive use of the trade mark within the specific jurisdiction in which it has been registered. The trade mark owner can then enforce their rights of ownership of the trade mark against other parties who may be infringing upon their exclusive rights.

International Registration Of A Trademark 

Registration of a trade mark within Australia will provide you with 10 years of exclusive use of the trade mark. But this will only extend to use within Australia.

If you wish to expand your business overseas, it is important that you seek protection in the countries you wish to operate in. This can be done by registering an international trade mark.

The easiest way to gain international trade mark protection is to apply with a single application through the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). In doing this, your lawyer will select the Madrid Protocol countries in which you seek to gain protection.

The Madrid Protocol is an international convention administered by the WIPO which provides a simpler approach to international trade mark protection and registration. The WIPO allows you to register your trademark in up to 122 countries through a single application.

There are a few requirements for international registration of trade marks. These include:

  • You must currently have a registered trade mark in Australia, or be in the process of applying to register a trade mark
  • The trade mark you wish to register internationally must be identical to the mark you use or intend to use within Australia
  • The products you want the mark to cover internationally are the same products you want to cover in Australia
  • The person applying for international protection must be the registered owner – or the  intended owner – of the trade mark within Australia

The cost of registering your trade mark via the Madrid Protocol will depend on where you wish to gain protection, the type of mark you want to register, as well as how many classes of goods and services will be protected by the trade mark. 

Copyright Protection 

In Australia, copyright protection arises automatically when new material is created. Unlike in other countries, you don’t have to register your copyright in Australia. As long as the work is written down or recorded in some material form, then copyright protection will arise.

‘Material form’ can refer to a work that, for example, is captured in writing, film, music or software code. Copyright does not include ideas, techniques, methods or styles.

The key to obtaining copyright protection is to ensure that your work isn’t a mere copy of another piece of work and isn’t infringing upon someone else’s copyright. If your work is original and in some material form, then you will gain protection.

Will My Copyright Be Valid Internationally?

Given Australia’s involvement and membership in numerous international treaties and conventions, copyrighted material that is created within Australia will likely be protected in numerous countries around the world.

Australia is a party of treaties relating to copyright, including The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the Universal Copyright Convention.

Most countries provide for copyright protection to Australian material under these multinational or bilateral treaties.

Need Help?

If you need help registering a trade mark domestically or internationally, or if you’re keen to understand your copyright protections, get in touch! We have a team of experienced Intellectual Property lawyers who can help work out where you stand.
Our friendly team is available for a free, no-obligations chat at team@sprintlaw.com.au or on 1800 730 617.

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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