What actually is a trademark and how’s it different from a brand? How’s it different from a logo? What do people mean when they say trademark?
Usually when people say trademark, they mean the trademark that is registered on a trademarks register. Trademarks register is run by a government department in each country. In the US, you have the US Patent and Trademark Register, in Australia you’ve got the Australian Trademarks Register, government departments run these and it’s a place where people file their patents and their trademarks, so that record of who owns which brands can be kept.
You might remember seeing cowboy movies and you’ll see in the movies that cattle have got brand stamped on them, it’s actually a logo of sorts. And the purpose of that was so that you could differentiate, which cows belong to farmer Jones versus which ones are farmer Smith’s cows. A trademark is exactly the same thing, it is what’s called a badge of origin, it is the thing that shows the customer it’s your clothing rather than some other person’s clothing.
In some countries you can have rights in an unregistered trademark, but they can be really difficult to enforce and you have to prove that you’ve got a reputation in that trademark. You also have to prove exactly what you’ve used it on, so if you’ve only sold gloves, then you can’t stop somebody using the same name for t-shirts. If you’ve only sold it in one tiny town in Tasmania, you’ve only got a reputation there, that’s as far as your unregistered reputation will protect you.
In a trademark registration, you get protection for the entire country that you file your trademark in. So in Australia, it’s the whole of Australia, in the US, it’s the whole of the US, you also get protection for the goods and services that you list on your trademark application. Now, some countries allow for leeway with that, in the US you have to be very precise on what you’re actually going to sell. So for clothing, it would be clothing, namely shorts, t-shirts and gloves. If you were wanting protection for jeans, you would have to later prove you’ve actually used it on jeans, so you have to be very specific. In places like Australia and New Zealand, you can just say clothing and you can use it on any types of clothing.
So that’s what a trademark is, it differentiates your goods or services from somebody else’s. My name is Cathryn Warburton and I am the Legal Lioness.