So, you’ve decided you’re starting a business, you have a business name decided on and are all set to go.
But, wait, are you unwittingly about to bypass a majorly important step?
Did you check out the ATMOSS register to see if the name you’ve chosen has a trademark against it?
A recent case has highlighted just how important it is…
In 2011, Canberra small business owner, Neda Luketic launched her business ZaraBumba.
After trading for 3 years, an infringement notice on the Zara trademark arrived in the mail requesting Neda to cease trading with the name ZaraBumba.
Three years of hard work, money, time, blood, sweat and tears gone into building a brand. In jeopardy.
According to the international retail chain, ZaraBumba was too similar to the trademarked Zara and they felt Neda was using ‘Zara’ to better her own business.
While Zara appears to have been extremely helpful towards Neda and how she could remedy the situation, including sending her information on registering alternative business names, domains and trademarks, not all businesses are so respectful of perceived trademark infringements.
In fact, some can get downright nasty and scary, particularly if you’re a sole entrepreneur without a legal team on retainer.
Yes, Neda could have fought the issue claiming that ZaraBumba was different enough to not cause confusion to potential customers of Zara, but the process would be time-consuming, expensive and success is not assured.
All of the angst could have been avoided if the ATMOSS register was checked before proceeding with the business name.
So what now?
Well, ZaraBumba is now relaunching as Z and Co – including new branding, website, domain name, logo, business registration, clothing labels and hopefully trademark.
You can see how either way this is an expensive mistake to make.
When you set up your business don’t stop once you check to see if you can get the business name registered and the domain name.
Check with IP Australia and ensure that the trademark is also available.
Making this an integral part of your business set up will just avoid potential heartache down the track.
If Neda had of owned the trademark for ZaraBumba when approached by Zara with an infringement notice she would have had an immediate defence making it much harder for Zara to prove a breach.
And it works the other way too – having your own trademark offers your brand protection (and recourse) should someone try and use your trademarked business name and/or logo to better their own.
Registering your business name ensures you won’t be in trouble for running a business without registration (and copping a fine) but it really doesn’t protect your brand or ensure that you’re in the clear to trade using that name.
To protect your business, and to make sure you aren’t infringing on someone else’s business and brand, you really need to take the next step – registering as a trademark.
Learn more at www.ipaustralia.gov.au or seek out the advice of a solicitor/lawyer with a specialty in intellectual property.
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