If you’re in the process of starting a business or launching a product, registering your trademark to protect your interests should be at the top of your to-do list. But where do you begin registering a trademark and how do you ensure it doesn't already belong to someone else?
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the basics of how to perform an international or Australian trademark search, what to look out for and where to seek professional help if needed.
We understand that the admin involved with performing an Australian trademark search or an international trademark search can seem overwhelming. However, it is vital that you take the time to properly search and register your trademark.
Failure to register your trademark puts your business, product or service at risk of infringement. This means, anyone can utilise your good name for their own ends and you’ll have no real legal means for stopping them. When you own a trademark, copycats can be more easily stopped as you have indisputable proof that you own that trademark.
Without this protection, your reputation can be irreversibly damaged and your business's bottom line will undoubtedly suffer as a result.
Before you register your trademark you must perform a trademark search. The reason you must search trademarks first is to ensure that you yourself are not engaging in infringing behaviour.
If you search trademark characteristics properly before pursuing registration you stand to avoid complications later and make the process much quicker. A proper search also ensures you don’t waste money by filing an application that would not be accepted.
It is only through performing a meticulous search that you can avoid conflicts such as:
The process for performing a trademark search will vary depending on whether you are doing a trademark search in Australia or an international trademark search.
In Australia, you search for your trademark via the Australia Trademarks Search Tool. Known colloquially as ATMOSS (Australian Trade Marks Online Search System) this system allows you to search for a specific business name, single word or image.
This trademark Australia search tool then compares this search criterion against an extensive trademark database, checking whether there is already any registered use, pending registration application, removals, refused applications and those that have never been registered.
Helpfully, this can then provide guidance not only about whether you are free to use this trademark but whether it is considered acceptable. Use of ATMOSS and the resulting information, however, does not guarantee refusal or approval of the trademark.
To ensure you are properly searching, it is recommended to:
Try different spellings of your trademark. For instance, cookie could be spelt kookie, kooky, cooky or any number of other ways. While different spelling makes them different, they could still be viewed as being deceptively similar when viewed in context.
Search for various forms of the word. Consider the word barking, this could also be contracted to its origin work of bark or used in another tense such as barked. We suggest using the origin word in a search so that all variations appear.
Be descriptive. For example, don't only search for flowers, look up specific flower names, this ensures you do not miss any creative use or interpretation by another entity.
Check the trademark for both goods and services . We will go over this in detail further on, but always check your intended trademark across both goods and services also. There are many classifications of trademarks and if you do not search all classes properly you could see yourself missing important details.
Keep in mind that registering a trade mark in Australia takes at least seven months and costs a minimum of $250 in govenment fees. This is yet another reason why you should perform due diligence and undertake an IP Australia trademark search before submitting your application. Not doing so can cost you valuable time and money.
International trademark searches are a little more complex; there are country-specific databases to wade through and variances in IP law to navigate. Thankfully, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) makes it a little easier by delivering a global database for you to review.
You can search their global database easily online and review existing registered trademarks, applications for trademarks, brands appellations of origin, emblems and international nonproprietary names.
This vast database covers 52,710,430 records from 73 data sources for an in-depth search. WIPO’s Madrid Monitor also gives access to information about international applications for trademark registration that have been received and from where these applications originate.
For more specific information on country-to-country trademark registrations, you may also elect to perform additional searches in country-specific databases. This is helpful if you plan to market your goods or services within that location and can ensure you avoid infringing on another's IP rights in that country.
These databases include but are not limited to:
Under IP law there are many classes of trademarks, in Australia, there are 45 classes which are then divided into 34 goods and 11 services. This classification system allows for similar trademarks to co-exist so long as their relevant classes of goods or services are completely separate.
As part of your search for registered trademarks, you will need to specify your class. Should you find a similar trademark in an unrelated class, you may still be able to register it without issue.
Classes for international trademarks can vary, so be sure to check these thoroughly and the applicable IP laws for the country in which the competing trademark is registered in to avoid issues.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the process of performing a trademark search IP Australia, we understand. At IP Guardian, we have years of experience as patent and trademark attorneys and understand how convoluted and nuanced the process can be.
We not only handle the entire process for performing an IP Australia trademark search but the registration and defence of your trademark also. We help you properly prepare your trademark for optimal protection and less potential for issues caused by infringement.
With our support, you can have the utmost confidence that your trademark has passed all the appropriate checks and is legally registered to you as the owner.
Offering cost-effective, fixed-price fees on several key services related to trademarks, IP Guardian simplifies and streamlines the process of searching for trademarks and securing them in your name.
To speak with one of our highly skilled patent and trademark attorneys, call our office today at (02) 9071 0130.
Registered Patent and Trade Mark Attorney with significant experience obtaining all forms of registered intellectual property. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, a Masters of Business Administration and a Masters of Intellectual Property. I’m passionate about showing my clients how they can protect their brands through trademark registrations.
I found them online and initially I was bit hesitant to talk to them about my problem but when I spoke to Barry, I felt more comfortable, and he gave me all the information and advice I wanted without even thinking that I am going to give him business or not. Finally, I went with them, and they made the entire process so smooth and easy for me. john was keeping us updated with each step he was doing. I would recommend these guys for any patent or trademark related service.
I would like to express my thanks to Barry and his team at IP Guardian in Sydney for their assistance with our recent Trademark application. Barry was highly professional, readily available throughout the process and clearly communicated expectations. Barry even helped us refine our application so that we had a greater chance of success which was very much appreciated to avoid extra costs. I would highly recommend Ip Guardian for all your Trademark and Intellectual Property needs.
Barry, last week, you and your professional team, made my year (or probably my next 21 years). So thank you so much for your executive, calm yet very effective actions under extream pressure. Elias Hajjar, Director, TROLLEYON PTY LTD
Informative, understood the business, what it needed and answered questions in a friendly and approachable manner. Easy decision to continue working with IPGuardian for future trademarking
From the day I contacted Barry Meskin until now with my silly amateur questions, he has been nothing short of amazing. I actually NEVER leave reviews anywhere, but I felt the need to do so for Barry and his team. I myself am a tradie, so I felt intimidated speaking to an attorney. But the second I spoke to him on the phone, he made me feel right at home. Never pressured me into any decisions, yet when I decided to go ahead with him, he delivered what I needed much quicker than what I was expecting. I cannot speak highly enough of him and recommend his services 100%.
The team at IP Guardian have made the process extremely straight forward and easy for us to understand exactly what was required. I will highly recommend to our clients who need help with IP.
I have dealt with Barry over the years, his advice and experience has helped me greatly. Looking for to working with him and his team again. Maher.
IP Guardian helps protect words, symbols, letters, numbers, names, signatures, phrases, sounds, shapes and smells. Yes, I said smells.
We've had the pleasure to work closely with Barry for many years. He has been exceptional to deal with and has a keen focus in providing a commercial led IP "go to market" strategy for start-ups and well known brands. Makes it easy and always advises on different ways to navigate through the IP process.
Barry Meskin @ IP Guardian is an experienced and extremely knowledgeable expert in the domain of intellectual property, patents and trademarks. In addition he has been extremely responsive and very professional in all our dealings. I wholeheartedly recommend Barry's services to any business or anyone seeking advice in this area - great quality and great value.