What's the difference between trade marks, business, company and domain names?
So, you have your branding sorted out, but how best to protect it? Doesn’t your company name, business name, or domain name provide the optimal brand protection?
Let’s take a look.
Registration of a business, company or domain name does not give you any proprietary rights – only a registered trade mark can give you that kind of protection. It is possible for the same word(s) to be registered by different people as business names, company names and trade marks. However, for example, a registered trade mark owner can take legal action against a business name owner for infringing its trade mark if the business name owner uses the branding on goods or services similar to those the trade mark registration covers. A note of caution - when you register your business name, be careful that its use does not infringe someone else’s trade mark. It is always wise to search trade mark databases before proceeding with securing a new business or company name.
Here's a quick rundown:
A trade mark identifies a product or a service, distinguishing it from other traders’ similar offerings. Registration of the trade mark gives the owner the legal right to exclusively use or control its use for the goods or services for which it is registered. Registration is obtained under the Trade Marks Act 1995 and almost always applies across Australia.
A business name is a trading name only.
A company name identifies a legally incorporated entity. If a company wishes to trade using a name other than its registered company name, it must register that trading name as a business name.
A domain name is an internet site address only. Registration of a domain name gives you exclusive use of that internet address but only for an agreed period of time.
It is important to note that no proprietary rights in your branding are gained through business name, company name or domain name registration in itself. Only a registered trade mark provides these rights.
Often good time and money is spent developing new branding or it may be that the branding you’re using has become a valuable business asset with widespread recognition in the marketplace. It’s a sad day when another trader starts using branding which is the same or substantially identical to yours and, if you don’t own the registered trade mark, you risk being caught without adequate brand protection. Don’t allow this to happen to your business.
Brand up and, importantly, protect, protect, protect by way of a registered trade mark.
We have intellectual property experts who can guide you through the trade mark registration process. We can also assist you with securing business names, company names and help you with your options with domain names. If you need guidance with your branding selections we can provide you with information to assist you in your decision-making.
For any trade mark or other intellectual property queries, please do not hesitate to contact Louise Blair.
This publication has been prepared for general guidance on matters of interest only and does not constitute professional legal advice. You should not act upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining specific professional legal advice. No representation or warranty (express or implied) is given as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this publication and to the extent permitted by law, Cowell Clarke does not accept or assume any liability, responsibility or duty of care for any consequences of you or anyone else acting or refraining to act in relation on the information contained in this publication or for any decision based on it.