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Can I DIY My Trade Mark Registration?
Have you ever stopped part way through a renovation and muttered, “Well that didn’t go as I’d planned?”… I have.
As a self-confessed DIY junkie I have turned my hand to everything from substantial car repairs and caravan renovations, to haircuts and catering. I’ve laid floors, created websites, self published and illustrated books. I’ve designed floor plans, framed up extensions, mixed concrete, built and rendered brick walls… In fact, my husband (who gets dragged along on these adventures) gets a bit nervous when I start talking about new ideas and frequently shoots me a disconcerted look whenever I say, “Oh, I could do that.”
Generally speaking, the results have been positive but the emotions throughout the process have varied from complete satisfaction to those associated with a near death experience. I understand the many reasons people opt for DIY and although I’ll never discourage it, I will offer some seasoned advice. Whatever it is you decide to take on,
“Educate yourself, and know your limits.”
DIY can result in a wonderful sense of achievement, but it can also keep you awake at night if you’re worried about the roof falling in while you sleep.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the area of trade mark registration. It’s certainly possible to do this yourself, but taking time to think about the two main steps in the registration process will help you work out if it is in fact a DIY job or you need to call in the professionals.
Step 1: Do I have a trade mark?
Firstly remember that a trade mark is not only a logo or a tag line. It can also include images, colours, scents, and sounds (See Common Trade Mark Misconceptions). It may be your business name but it could also be the title of a key product or service or the words or images used as part of your branding. If you’re a designer or have developed your own line of products, your name itself may be the trade mark that needs protecting. Once you’ve identified what you want to register, check the IP Australia data bases for existing trade marks.
Step 2: What ‘classes’ should I choose?
Goods and services have been divided into 45 classes, and when you register a trade mark you must choose the classes to which your registration will apply. Each class will incur an additional fee and your application can’t be changed once it’s submitted, so it’s essential to give this serious attention.
Take a look at the list of classes here at the IP Australia website and consider which ones your products or services occupy. Also consider how you plan to extend your business and which other classes you may wish to protect. For example, what begins as a family restaurant may also branch out into catering or training.
Once you are clear on these two main steps you’ll have a better idea of how to proceed. Here are 3 options.
1. DIY – Standard Application.
A full list of costs and application forms are available from IP Australia. One approach is to complete the forms yourself and lodge online. Alternatively, you can post your application for a few extra dollars. In either case however, you will need to be prepared to pay all fees at the time of lodgement.
2. DIY – TM Service.
IP Australia also offer a TM Head Start Service that allows your application to be reviewed prior to officially lodging it. You will only receive one off feedback, so even if you utilise this service, you will find it most beneficial if you’ve done your homework and are prepared as this is your final application rather than a draft. The service incurs an additional cost (per class) which must be paid when it’s submitted online.
3. Professional help.
If you aren’t sure if you even have a trade mark or you don’t know which class/classes to include, it really is a good investment to talk to an IP Lawyer. If you’ve given the topic thought before you attend an appointment, your conversation will be meaningful and you’ll know what questions to ask. A well prepared application will see your trade marks protected for 10 years and renewal is then very straight forward.
As with any of my articles on legal topics, they are designed to guide and inform and can never take into account each of your unique circumstances. But for the serial DIY’ers among us, I do hope this information goes some way to highlighting the main issues to consider.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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