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For small business owners, a trade mark is a valuable asset. 

A registered trade mark distinguishes your products and services from your competitors.

It gives you exclusive rights to use that trade mark as your brand in Australia, and you have a legal avenue to prevent others from trading with it for similar goods and services.

In today's fast-paced, global marketplace, it’s important to take steps to protect your trade mark from infringement by others.

Here are 6 ways you can protect your trade mark:

1. Register your trade mark

If you think a registered trade mark might be right for your business, you can start by using IP Australia’s new tool.

The pilot TM Checker tool is free and will give you an indication of whether you can register your trade mark.

An initial check only takes a few minutes and is free.

2. Use your trade mark consistently and appropriately

Be consistent with your registered trade mark by using the same spelling, design and colour scheme in your marketing and promotional materials.

Use your trade mark as an adjective, not a noun or a verb (for example, ‘Kleenex brand tissues’, not ‘Kleenexes’).

3. Monitor for potential infringements on your trade mark

Keep an eye on the marketplace for potential trade mark infringement by others.

This can involve monitoring online, social media and industry publications.

Use tools such as TM Checker to search for your and similar registered trade marks.

4. Enforce your trade mark rights

If you believe that someone is infringing on your registered trade mark, you can take action to enforce your rights.

This can involve sending a cease and desist letter, filing a lawsuit for trade mark infringement, or filing an opposition or cancellation proceeding with IP Australia.

5. Use alternative dispute resolution to resolve trade mark disputes

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) can be a more efficient and cost-effective way to resolve trade mark disputes outside of the courtroom.

For more information, visit IP Australia’s website and read about the Options before taking legal action.

6. Challenge domain names similar to your trade mark

If someone registers a domain name that is identical or confusingly similar to your registered trade mark, you may be able to stop them through the auDA for Australian domains and the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) globally.

This policy allows trade mark owners to challenge the registration of domain names that infringe their rights.

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