02 May Trade mark registration – the whys and hows
A guest blog from Tamara Liebman at Calibrate Legal
Most business owners understand the importance of having a strong brand that’s associated with their goods or services. But they might be wondering: is it worth investing in having your brand registered as a trade mark?
The answer is almost always: YES!
If your brand name is original, distinctive and not descriptive you can most likely get it registered as a trade mark in New Zealand (and overseas if needed). This also goes for your logo and any other distinctive images that act as trade marks. There are trade marks that aren’t registrable, so when you’re developing a new brand it’s worth considering registrability before going to far with that.
The advantage a registered trade mark has over an unregistered trade mark is a monopoly over the use of the trade mark in relation to the specified goods or services. If you have a registered trade mark no one else can use it for the same or similar goods or services. All you have to do when asking another trader to stop using it is to point out that your trade mark is registered!
The corollary is that if you don’t have your trade mark registered someone else can start using it and you won’t be able to stop them. As you can imagine, this may be disastrous for your business. All that branding and marketing work potentially wasted.
If you are looking at selling your business it will be much more valuable with a registered trade mark.
How much of an investment is it?
In New Zealand the government fees are very low – $150 plus GST per trade mark per goods or services class from application through to registration. For example, if you have one trade mark you need to register in 3 classes the total fee is $450 plus GST.
The process is fairly easy, so if funds are tight and you have the time you can definitely have a go at doing it yourself. Alternatively, you can pay a lawyer to do it and the fees for that vary quite widely.
So, money-wise the costs are quite low, especially compared to the risks and benefits. It’s always worth investigating whether your brand is registrable and applying if it is.
For more information, you can go to www.iponz.govt.nz/trademarks
Tamara is an experienced Auckland lawyer with over 15 years’ track record providing legal advice to individuals as well as small and medium sized organisations.
In addition to practising law, Tamara and her partner (a barrister (not a barista)) are raising two energetic children in law and culture-loving household.
You can visit her website here www.calibratelegal.nz