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If you’re buying and selling online, a registered trade mark can be a critical asset for your business. Yet only 4% of small businesses in Australia have a trade mark, and many business owners don’t know it can help them grow and protect their brand.

What is a trade mark?

A common misconception is that a trade mark is the same thing as a business name, company name or domain name, but it’s not.

A trade mark is a sign used to differentiate your business from others in the market who are providing goods or services like yours. The most common types of trade marks are:

  • brand names
  • logos
  • distinctive phrases.

Benefits of a trade mark

A trade mark can help build a memorable experience with customers, leading to brand loyalty and repeat business.

Registering a trade mark gives you:

  • exclusive rights to use that trade mark as your brand in Australia
  • a legal avenue to prevent others from using your brand to trade similar goods and services.

A new way to check and apply for a trade mark

Before you apply to register a trade mark it’s important to check your idea is new to the Australian market. Some words, phrases or images can't be registered as trade marks. That's because they're common words that should be available for everyone to use. For example, 'warm' for heaters.

To help small businesses, IP Australia is piloting a new trade mark checker tool. You can use the tool to check if a trade mark is available to register in Australia, and then easily apply. An initial check only takes a few minutes and is free.

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