Startup Law

How to complete a comprehensive search of trade mark availability

Trade marks are the intellectual property right that allows startup founders to start building goodwill and brand awareness in their businesses.

A trade mark is a right that is granted over a word, phrase, letter, number, sound, smell, shape, logo, picture or packaging your business uses to represent its products and services, Business Victoria explains.

Registering a trade mark gives you exclusive rights to:

  • Use the trademark across Australia
  • Use the trademark for commercial purposes
  • Assign, transfer or sell the rights to the trade mark to another business
  • Protect the trade mark if others try to use it

So how do you go about finding out whether or not your potential trademark is already taken?

Individuals can use a number of freely available databases on IP Australia’s website to search for a trade mark registration. Outside of Australia individuals will need to get in contact with the trade mark offices of individual countries there they are interested in securing a trade mark. There are also third party companies that provide search services for a fee.

The LawAdvisor Research Team cautions intellectual property law can be complex and it can be difficult to complete a comprehensive search without professional help. There can be significant risks to a business if a trade mark registration is not done properly.

“Searching for trade marks can be a complex task that requires skill and persistence,” the LawAdvisor Research team explains.

“You will need to think about how a trade mark might look and sound and how people may perceive or interpret the trade mark. It isn’t enough to simply search for a trademark that is identical to the one you want to use.”

Individuals should consider speaking to a lawyer who can help ensure their businesses intellectual property rights are protected.