Registered Trademark Vs Unregistered Trademarks

Written by Barry Meskin on 30 December 2022


Can You Infringe An Unregistered Trade Mark?

Yes, even though a trademark may not be formally registered, it is still possible to infringe it. Registration is not what determines whether infringement has occurred or whether it is permitted. 

Any use of a known logo, symbol or phrase that belongs to another business and is actively used by them in the promotion of their business could still be protected, whether registered or not. You can still face consequences for using an unregistered trademark without the express permission of the owner. 

However, it can be much harder for the original user to prove ownership if they have not registered their trademark and as a result defending it against misuse is also more challenging and much more expensive.

Ultimately, the best course of action is to not utilise a trademark that is the same or deceptively similar to one that is already in use, whether registered or not. 

Can You Perform An Unregistered Trademark Search

While it is much more difficult to search for unregistered trademarks given there is no database for these, it is not impossible. 

Tools such as reverse image search on Google can help you locate similar or identical trademarks to one you hope to use. 

Even the simple act of searching for businesses offering similar goods and services can help you locate and determine whether your trademark is unique enough in comparison to others already in use.

Remember, when it comes to defending against a possible trade mark infringement you will need to show that you did your due diligence in seeking out any possible risks for infringement. Always do a detailed search to avoid complications down the line. When it comes to due diligence, having an attorney perform an infringement search and providing a written and documented search report is the best option.

Trademark Search

What Does A Trademark Symbol In Australia Look Like?

Registered trademarks can be denoted through the use of either the ​​™ symbol or the ® symbol. 

The latter indicates that the trademark has been properly registered with an appropriate governing body, is fully protected and is only for the exclusive use of the owner of that trade mark. 

Is There An Unregistered Trademark Symbol?

Yes, unregistered trade marks such as logos, phrases, images or similar are permitted to use the ™ symbol. 

This helps to indicate that they are in fact being treated as trademarks even if the formal registration process has not been undertaken. Unregistered trademarks may not use the ® symbol. 

What Is A Registered Trademark Example?

Well-known registered trademarks include the Mcdonald's Golden Arches, this is also an example of a series trademark where associated phrases and symbols are included. The tagline ‘I’m lovin it’ that is used in much of Mcdonald's advertising is also trademarked. 

Google’s word trademark is also quite well known. The blue, yellow, red and green colours used in the logo and their arrangement within the word also make up part of the trademark specifications. 

Likewise, the specific font used in Coca-Cola’s packaging is trade marked for their exclusive use and even the colour purple used by confectionary giants Cadbury is protected as a component of their trademark. 

Well known trademarks


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