Business names and trade marks are two very different things but many people don’t understand the differences.

Let us explain a little more:

A business name is an administrative requirement and doesn’t stop others from using the same or a similar name.

A trade mark, on the other hand, gives you exclusive rights to use, licence, or sell the mark. You can also prevent others from using it. A trade mark doesn’t have to be a name either. It could be your logo or picture, a sound, scent, shape (think Toblerone) and many more.

Not all business names are eligible for trade mark protection, however. If your business name describes your businesses goods or services or is a common term in your industry, your application may not be successful. Using our TM Headstart service will allow you to have an assessment undertaken by our examination team before you file.

Do you need a trade mark?

A trade mark is not compulsory and there are common law protections for those who choose not to register a trade mark.

However, there are many benefits to registering a trade mark. A registered trade mark:

  • is listed on a public database and can act as a deterrent to others
  • allows you to take legal action if someone infringes on your mark
  • can be easily bought, sold, or licensed
  • is a defence against infringement accusations.

How do you apply?

There are two ways to apply for a trade mark: via a standard application or through TM Headstart. TM Headstart provides you with an assessment of your trade mark application and helps identify any problems before you file publically. While it does cost more, TM Headstart can save you money in the long run by identifying problems early. This way, your application is less likely to be rejected and you can avoid paying more money to re-file.

The key differences between a standard application and TM Headstart are outlined below.

  Standard application TM Headstart
  Total Cost
starts at $250
Total Cost
starts at $330
Pre-assessment by an examiner
Feedback within 5 days of request
Speak directly with an examiner
Amend your application prior to filing
Receive an immediate filing date
Formal report within 13 weeks

What other help is available?

Trade Mark Assist (currently in beta) is an interactive tool designed to educate you through the application process.

Our Choose Wise videos help you choose the correct goods and services to apply for and highlight some common issues when applying for a trade mark.

Our Australian Trade Mark Search videos help you get ready to search and conduct a quick or advanced search.