Your trademark, often referred to as your brand, is your business’s identity. Consumers use your trademark to distinguish your brand amongst the competition. Your trademark can be:
- The logo of your business
- Your name and/or surname
- The image displayed on the side of your vehicle
- The words or images used in your signage and other advertising
- Words or graphics used in packaging
- Images or logos used as letterheads for business correspondence
Most trademarks consist of words, logos, or slogans, but you can mark any of the following:
Words, Single letters, Specific phrases, Numbers, Sounds, Scents, Shapes, Logos, Images, Types of packaging, Or any mixture of the above.
You can apply to mark a number of different things: however, the more obscure marks are not as common as your standard word, logo, or slogan applications.
Different Types of Trademark
You can apply to register any of the following:
Word or Design Trademarks
You can use a word or design mark to identify your products or services that you manufacture, sell, lease, hire out, or perform, from other similar companies. A word or design mark can consist of a single word or design, or of a combination of words and designs. Successful word or design marks include:
- The NIKE SWOOSH® design in combination with the word NIKE®
- The TELSTRA “T”® design
A certification mark is used to distinguish your products or services in reference to:
- A characteristic or unique attribute of your products/services
- The process through which products are manufactured/services performed
- The company that has manufactured your products/performed your services
- The location within which your products are manufactured or your services performed
- The CE® trademark, used to certify that a product complies with safety requirements
- The Woolmark® symbol, used to certify that products are 100% wool
Series of Trademark
A series of trademarks can consist of up to, and no more than, six marks that resemble one another in their most important features. They may only differ in their non-distinctive elements: those elements that do not significantly affect their appearance.
You can protect sounds that are related to your products or services. According to Australian legislation, a distinguishing sound can be eligible for registration so long as it can be represented by musical notation. If your sound trademark cannot be graphically represented through musical notation, you will be required to include the following information on your application:
- A graphic representation of the mark, including words to describe sounds.
- A clear and concise description of the sound mark.
You can protect an overall shape so long as it is directly related to your products or services. A shape trademark could include such things as the shape of your products; the shape of containers or other packaging used in the shipping of products; or a particular shape used to distinguish your products or services from your competition. For example:
- The Coca-Cola Company registered the shapes of their bottles as a trademark
- The shape of a pencil is a trademarked shape
- The shape of a roofing vent is a trademarked shape
In the botany industry, the names of plants are used to identify specific plants, as well as to discern each plant from the other. Plant names must comply with scientific and industry conventions. Each plant name falls into a particular category:
- Scientific nomenclature
- Invented names, for the purpose of further identifying one plant from the other, particularly within the same genus and species
- An alternative invented name
- Trade names and trademark designations used to identify a particular variety of plant
- A common name that relates to a characteristic of the plant
The name of a particular plant variety is not eligible for trademark registration, as does not identify one trader’s plant from another’s.
The common name for a plant can be used to describe a specific plant: however, a mark cannot name a specific plant, but rather it identifies the trader of the plant, such as the grower, producer, or seller.
You can also apply for the following:
- Trademarks for your brand of wine
- Trademarks for movements relating to your products or services
- Trademarks for a specific colour or shade that identifies your products or services (for example, Cadbury trademarked a shade of purple to distinguish their packaging)
- Trademarks for a scent that distinguishes your products or services
Trademarking any of these elements is a difficult process: you will need to file your application in a very specific manner. Before you attempt to register a sound, colour, wine label, plant, shape, or any of the above items as your mark, you should seek the advice of a trademark professional. We can offer your professional advice concerning the eligibility of your mark for registration, as well as the service of drafting, filing, and managing your application throughout the registration process.
Quick Off the Mark® is a division of Mark My Words Trademark Services Pty Ltd (MMW). MMW was founded in 2011 and is headed by Jacqui Pryor, a registered trade marks attorney with more than 16 years experience.
In 2015 MMW acquired Quick Off the Mark®, which is a fast and affordable Australian trademark registration service. Quick Off the Mark® offers fixed fees that are affordable to help Australian businesses register their trademarks.
Disclaimer – The advice provided in this blog is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account your business objectives, legal situation or needs. Before acting on this advice you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your own objectives, legal situation and needs.