I recently received an email from a client asking me about a letter he had been sent demanding that his business cease from using their logo. Apparently the complainant uses a similar logo and has used that design for some time now. His logo is similar but still very different to that used by my client.
I am not a solicitor, however, the wording on my clients logo presents a clear differentiation from the logo used by the other party. My advice was to meet with a solicitor that specialises in IP law. I also recommended that he apply to register his logo as a Trade Mark with IP Australia.
Note that Boston Acoustics above, have both the TM and R symbols in their branding. The TM is in the Brand Icon and the R is for the company name.
Before your logo is registered you can use the initials ‘TM’ with your logo and the letters ‘TM’ must appear as close to the logo artwork as possible, generally to the top right of any words or graphic image/s you use. This will place others on notice that you are the owner of that ‘Mark’ and you are in the process of registering the design. This also applies to sounds [Microsoft® Windows® 'Logo Music' plays at start up and close down], smells and other designs or devices that are unique to your business and easily identify your business or organisation. Anyone can register a Trade Mark.
After your Trade Mark registration has been approved and the fees paid, you can replace the ‘TM’ with the (R) or ® signifying that your logo is now protected. However, this does not guarantee that you are home and hosed. If another company can prove that they registered a similar Trade Mark and have been using it for a long time and your Trade Mark encroaches on their IP … you may be up for a legal battle. Seek advice as soon as you can and weigh up the costs associated with changing your logo or going to court to keep it.
In another totally separate incident this year, I found that company in Queensland had blatantly stolen the design and almost all the copy, with a few minor name changes, from another one of my clients websites. I can’t expose the way in which the theft was discovered, for obvious reasons, but it wasn’t too difficult. A phone call to the company and a couple of emails to the domain owner later and the website was altered and all of the plagiarised copy removed.
We often forget how much time an effort we have put into building our businesses. The thought of being forced to change your logo rarely comes to mind and if it ever did would you be prepared to cop it on the chin? Or would you fight to hold on to what you believe is rightfully yours? Registering your Trade Mark could mean the difference between fighting and losing or, simply not having to go into battle in the first place!
You can register your Mark at IP Australia and find out more about your rights on the website: Visit IP Australia here. It is always recommended to seek professional legal advice before making any decisions regarding your Intellectual Property.