Trademark Registration In Australia: Company Name vs. Product Name
The advantages of a registered trademark are obvious: greater assurance that you are not infringing on another’s trademark, greater assurance of the strength and validity of your mark, protection against infringement, public notice of your registration, and legal grounds for trademark enforcement, to name a few.
Even with all of these advantages, the question of when to register certain marks is not as simple as one might imagine. The question of what types of marks can and should be registered arises frequently, particularly in the retail sector. When it comes to registering a company name and a product name trademark, the question is more particular. As you go on, you’ll discover when registering each is advantageous.
Let’s look at it more closely,
When referred to by name, the phrases brand, product, and company are frequently used interchangeably, yet they are very different entities from a legal standpoint. You must be aware of these distinctions, or your company, brand, and products may be jeopardised in the future.
What is the definition of a company name?
Your business name (sometimes known as your trade name) is the name under which you register to do business in your state. It’s on your bank account, tax paperwork, and other legal documents, among other things. Nike, Inc., for example, is the company’s business name.
What is the definition of a brand name?
A brand name is a name given to a group of products or services that you provide, or to a particular line of products or services that you provide. Nike, for example, is the brand name that appears on the majority of Nike, Inc.’s products. The company name and the brand name are the same in this case.
A business name and a brand name, on the other hand, do not have to be the same. Many businesses have numerous brands. Apple, for example, is a multi-brand firm with products such as the iPad, iPhone, iPod, and Mac.
What is the definition of a product name?
A product name could be as generic as “vehicle,” but with so many products and services on the market, firms must come up with more creative product names to set themselves apart from their competition. In this situation, a product name specifies a certain product or service, and when the company starts using it, it becomes a brand name.
For example, the Toyota corporation works under the brand Toyota, and its goods are automobiles. To set itself apart from the competitors, Toyota uses the Toyota brand name (in addition to its Lexus and Scion brand families), with sub-brands such as Corolla, Camry, and Sienna inside the Toyota brand family. That’s not all, though. There are distinct product models such as the Toyota Sienna CE, Toyota Sienna LE, and so forth within those sub-brands.
The brand architecture of a corporation might be as complex as a well-researched family tree!
What Does All of This Mean?
In the end, your company name, brand name, and product or service name may or may not all be the same. They’re all separate things, and whether or not they’re compatible, they all need to be properly cleared for usage and safeguarded, or you’ll end yourself in costly difficulty in the future.
What you must do is as follows:
Make certain that the product’s name qualifies for trademark protection
It’s important to remember that any name that could be considered generic cannot be trademarked. Make sure your product name is actually unique – a decent rule of thumb is to stick to the trademark strength guidelines. The trademark is weaker the more the product name describes the product itself.
Make sure you’re familiar with the requirements for filing a trademark for your product
When you file a trademark application for your company name, you must include information on what kinds of goods or services your firm sells, as well as how the company mark will be used to identify those goods or services in commerce. Your trademark application for a product name will address the same issues, but on a much more detailed level, focusing solely on the product at hand. It’s critical to stay accurate about what class (or classes) of products the product belongs to, as well as to be detailed, complete, and clear about how the product trademark will be utilised as an identifier. This is why hiring a trademarking lawyer to help you with the registration procedure is usually a good option.
Apply the same level of vigilance to your product’s trademark as you do to your business’s
Infringement of product trademarks is equally as common as an infringement of corporate trademarks. Also keep in mind that possible infringers may use your product’s name as their company’s name, and vice versa. This is still trademark infringement, as is any situation in which a consumer can be mistaken about the source of goods or services. There are no distinctions between product-level trademarks and company-level trademarks; they are all concerned with eliminating customer confusion and safeguarding legitimate trademark owners.
You should always register a trademark for your company’s name. It’s your company’s “face,” the first point of contact for most customers, and the primary method in which you’ll be recognised. In most circumstances, the danger of confusion is considerable, and no firm can afford to lose money if potential clients end up doing business with someone else when they planned to do business with you.
It’s impossible to imagine a situation in which a company would not desire to register their name as a trademark. Even if you’ve been using or considering a name that’s on the weaker end of the trademark strength spectrum (descriptive or generic), it’s often a better idea to trademark a different, stronger name rather than relying on the weak provisions that only provide limited protection to unregistered trademarks. When you have an unregistered mark, the time and money spent addressing trademark conflicts far outweigh any possible brand equity or other apparent reasons to not alter your name to one that is easier to register.
Is the same response true for product names if it’s always a good idea to register the name of your company? Yes, in the vast majority of situations. In order to offer a second layer of identity to their products, many corporations prefer to create creative, distinctive names. These names will frequently fit the criteria for strong trademarks: they aren’t generic or descriptive of the product, but rather refer to it in a more abstract or unconnected way. Consider the various ways beverage businesses will refer to generic drinks like cola or lemon-lime soda, or cosmetics with distinctive, unique labels for specific hues.
If your organisation produces products with those types of distinctive names, you should consider apply for a trademark for them. A registered trademark for your items provides further protection against imitators and counterfeiters, as well as ensures that your product name is only linked with your company. Here are a few more things to think about while registering trademarks for product names.