The Trademark Process
1. Trademark search
Although it is not mandatory, we recommend conducting a trademark search before filing for trademark registration to ensure that there is not a prior existing mark similar to yours that could prevent your mark from obtaining registration. It is also useful for you to know whether there are similar marks in the marketplace. Searches include the IP Australia trademark database (or relevant country database), government databases (for business and company names) and general marketplace searches.
2. Complete and file the Application
Once the relevant searches have been conducted with the results showing the mark is not too similar to a previously existing mark, then a trademark application is filed with the government. At this stage, it is necessary to define the goods and services for which trademark protection is sought. This should be as broad as possible (but not so broad as to be meaningless) as you are endowed with protection from a potential infringer only for the goods and services covered by the application. It should include even future uses of the mark.
The relevant government intellectual property office, such as IP Australia, will then examine the mark to ensure it meets the requirements for registrability in that country. Examination usually occurs around 3-4 months after filing the application, however, it is possible to request an expedited examination.
4. Respond to objections, if any
Objections arising from the examination can occur. They can often be overcome by:
- submitting legal arguments as to why the mark should indeed be registered; or
- providing evidence that the mark has been in use for a sufficient time; or
- altering the goods/services of the trademark specification.
If there are no objections, or they are overcome, then a notice of acceptance will issue. The acceptance and details of the mark will be published shortly thereafter, and once published, there is a two-month period in which other parties can formally oppose the registration of the mark.
If there is no opposition, then trade mark is registered upon payment of the registration fees. Note that in order to ensure that no internationally filed trademarks will claim priority in Australia the application will not proceed to formal registration until around 7½ months from the application date (similar timeframes apply in US and NZ). Once registered, however, your trademark rights will be taken to have been valid from the application date.
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