Why you need to protect your intellectual property?

By Ben Ryan, Lawyer at Hillhouse Legal Partners
| 4 min. read

Key takeaways

  • More than 70,000 applications have been filed with IP Australia each year since 2015
  • The costs of registration are relatively inexpensive
  • Given the increased difficulty in obtaining successful trade mark applications, and the ever decreasing pool of available identifiers, it is more important now than ever that you act to protect your intellectual property through registration

In an increasingly competitive market, your intellectual property is what sets you apart from your competitors. So why do so many clients not have protection for their intellectual property? Trade marks are a relatively simple and inexpensive way to protect your intellectual property and will provide your company with protection for your brand.

Unfortunately, many clients don’t know the risks of not having their intellectual property protected by registration with IP Australia or internationally.

A number of clients who have recently come to the firm have sat on trade markable material for months or even years as they were not aware of the relatively low expense of protecting their intellectual property until we advised them accordingly.

If a name, logo or tagline is an important part of your business, you will want to ensure that your intellectual property is protected.

Trade marks

What is a trade mark?

A trade mark is a unique identifier for a product or service that can be used to distinguish goods and services from those of competitors. As such, given the competitive market place in all industries, having a unique symbol, word, phrase, sound, shape, logo, picture and/or aspect of packaging is critical to differentiating your product or service and having a competitive edge.  

Clients frequently present with company names, logos or taglines that have not been trade marked. The most frequent issue we see is where clients have trade marked one, but not the other (e.g. their name but not their logo). It is surprising how many clients do not see the value in trade marking their tagline even though it may be how they market themselves to their respective industry.

Given that there are so many aspects of a product or service that can be trade marked, it is comparatively one of the easiest ways to protect your intellectual property into the future. A registered trade mark can provide security to the owner indefinitely, provided that the registration is renewed every 10 years in Australia.

Australians are clueing into the value of intellectual property registrations and this is reflected in The Australian Intellectual Property Report 2019 produced by IP Australia.

While it has been relatively easy to obtain and renew a registered trade mark in Australia, with applications totalling more than 70,000 each year since 2015, clients are finding it more difficult to have their applications approved by IP Australia. Whether it be due to conflict with existing trade marks, or as a result of challenge from competitors during the advertising stages of an application.

 

Source: Australian Intellectual Property Report 2019 produced by IP Australia, Chapter 3 

Given the increased difficulty in obtaining successful trade mark applications, and the ever decreasing pool of available identifiers, it is more important now than ever that you act to protect your intellectual property by registering your trade marks with IP Australia as soon as possible.

In 2018, IP Australia received 79,490 applications for trade mark registrations. This is indicative of applicants becoming increasingly aware of the value of their ‘brand’ and wanting to ensure their brand is protected into the future.

If you have not trade marked your business’ intellectual property, whether it be your business name, tagline and/or logo, you may wish to take steps to do so as soon as possible as applications are constantly increasing and can remain indefinitely once registered.  While there are avenues to challenge existing registrations, this can be an expensive and lengthy process that can be easily avoided by registration at the outset.

Why trade mark?

In today’s society, where trade mark registrations are increasingly competitive, registering your trade mark as soon as possible may save you significant future costs.

The key issues you want to avoid are:

  1. finding another party has already registered their interest in the same or similar intellectual property as yours, meaning your time and money spent on building your ‘brand’ is effectively wasted; or
  2. having another party use your intellectual property and not having the significant rights afforded with a registered mark to effectively pursue that party for using your intellectual property. The effects of which may include dilution of your brand, misuse of your brand or confusion and passing off in the market place and leaving you in the position of having little recourse.

Summary

It is important to identify the value of your trade mark and its critical nature to the function of your business. Given the trend in increased in applications in recent years, the need to act quickly in registering intellectual property with IP Australia is vital.

Please do not hesitate to contact Ben Ryan if you would like further information on this article or for any other assistance.

The information in this blog is intended only to provide a general overview and has not been prepared with a view to any particular situation or set of circumstances. It is not intended to be comprehensive nor does it constitute legal advice. While we attempt to ensure the information is current and accurate we do not guarantee its currency and accuracy. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the information in this blog as it may not be appropriate for your individual circumstances.