So you’ve submitted your trademark application, what comes next? Before you can be approved for registration your application needs to pass through several steps. One of these is an assessment by IP Australia, Australia’s trademark office.
Designed to examine every aspect of your application and determine where it can be approved, this assessment can be daunting for applicants. Known as a trademark examination, those applications that do not meet the necessary criteria will be given a trademark examination report.
In this guide, we will review what this report means concerning your application and how you can overcome any issues it has flagged.
Also known as an ‘adverse examination report’ these reports outline any issues the examiner has with a trademark application. Every application must meet strict legislative requirements in order to be approved.
These reports are accessible via your portal on IP Australia and are most often uploaded within three to four months of your initial application for a trademark.
Should you have skipped the standard applications process and converted a Headstart request into an application you could receive your report in as little as two to four weeks.
Should you receive a trademark examination report instead of the anticipated approval, you will have a period of 15 months in which to resolve these concerns and respond to the report.
The most important thing to remember is that receiving an examination report does not mean your application is rejected. It is simply highlighting some issues with your application and giving you time to fix them, following which you may be approved without further issues.
(Image: Trademark Application Evaluation Process)
Is it possible to avoid a trademark examination report? Yes, it is. If you follow the guidelines for the application and thoroughly check before submission, you may never be issued an examination report, and will gain trademark approval.
Some of the most common mistakes applicants make include:
So what do you do if you receive an examination report?
As indicated above, you will have 15 months from the date the report is issued to both respond and resolve the concerns. Depending on what the issues raised are, it could be a simple matter of updating your trademark classes or applicant information.
For more complex issues such as those contravening section 44 of the trademarks act, you may need to revisit your trademark design and alter it to be substantially different from an existing trademark.
If you have been using this trademark for a long period and can prove you were using it before the conflicting trademark was registered, you may be able to overcome this. However, it can be difficult to prove this.
Likewise, for trademarks that are too generic and not unique enough you may be required to either change your trademark or prove it is already recognisable to the public as your business trademark.
If you plan to challenge the problems outlined in the report, you will need to provide evidence to support your actions. While the type of evidence you will need to give will depend on your circumstances, things that are accepted for consideration include:
All proof or evidence is then included in a formal declaration which is uploaded into the same IP Portal where the examination report was issued.
Please note that before you submit the declaration, it must be signed by an authorised representative such as an employee of your business, a qualified third party involved in the declaration (such as a trademark attorney) or yourself as the applicant.
While 15 months should be ample time for you to source evidence and complete a declaration, if you need additional time you can apply for it. Additional time requires payment of an extension fee and should you not pay this fee your application will be rejected on grounds of missing the provided deadline.
The only caveat to this is if you opt to defer your application. This is not always an available option to every applicant, however, in some situations you can essentially press pause on the application and stop the clock on the response time. This means no additional fees need to be paid and your application is simply held in suspense for a period of time. Once this time lapses you will then need to still address the objections raised.
If you’ve taken steps to resolve the concerns in the examination report, there are a few potential outcomes you can expect.
If the examiner accepts your response and/or amendments, IP Australia will accept your application and your trademark will be registered.
While not ideal, if your response is deemed to have only resolved some of the concerns outlined or the proof was not accepted it doesn't mean rejection of your application.
A new report will be issued with relevant objections maintained and a new response is required. Thus giving you another opportunity to correct any issues and have your application approved.
If you have managed your trademark application without issues but receive an examination report and have no idea what to do next, then professional help can be incredibly valuable.
Of course, seeking professional help from a trademark attorney from the outset is the more efficient approach as they can ensure the decreased possibility of receiving an examination report.
This is not to say you cannot manage this process yourself, however, it can be significantly less time-consuming and less stressful to have a professional manage your trademark application from the outset. They can then also handle any concerns that arise during the process.
At IP Guardian, we have decades of experience managing even the most complex trademark applications and examination reports. No matter where you are in your journey to register a trademark, we can help. We don’t mind stepping in to resolve issues outlined in examination reports, even if we were not involved in the application.
As a qualified team of trademark and patent attorneys, our goal is to support Australian businesses and thrive through the proper protection of their intellectual property.
We offer cost-effective consultations designed to be accessible to businesses of all sizes. We make short work of applications and minimise the chances of examination reports being issued.
With proper checks performed for similar existing trademarks, accurate assignment of goods and services and in-depth reviews of all paperwork before submission, your trademark application can be approved in record time.
For genuine, professional support from qualified trademark attorneys, contact the team at IP Guardian 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.
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IP Guardian helps protect words, symbols, letters, numbers, names, signatures, phrases, sounds, shapes and smells. Yes, I said smells.
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