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Trade marks: Do you own your brand?

A great brand can set your business apart from the competition. But if you haven’t taken steps to protect your name, slogan or logo, they may not be yours. 

Why trade marks matter

A trade mark protects your logo, name or brand. It could include words, logos, shapes, colours, sounds, smells or any combination of these.
Registering a trade mark gives you and your business exclusive rights to use the brand in New Zealand. It also discourages others from using or copying it. Protection can last forever if you renew it every 10 years.
You won’t be able to register your word or logo as a trade mark if:
  • it is too similar to another registered mark in the same or related industry
  • or it describes the goods or services you trade in.

For example, ‘Milk’ might be OK to register for an architecture firm, but not for a milk product.

TIP: Registering your business name with the Companies Office or buying a website address doesn’t give you trade mark rights.

In fact, existing trade mark owners may challenge your rights to the business name and domain.

How to get protected

The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) has released a free and quick online tool, called Trade Mark Check, to find out if your logo, brand or name is unique.

To get started, select either Word or slogan check or Logo or image check. If you’re searching a word, enter the words directly into the search bar.

If you’re searching a logo or image, you can take a photo of the image on your phone. The tool can also recognise a photo of a quick drawing of your image or logo. Upload the photo into the image search on Trade Mark Check. You’ll receive a description of the word or logo with a list of features.
The next step is to filter these results by Goods and services classes, which takes you to a report of relevant results. Have a look through the results to see if your idea is unique.

Trade mark check (external link) — Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand

Once you’ve completed your search and believe that you have a unique word or image, you can apply to register your trade mark online. IPONZ has a step-by-step guide to help you through the process.

Apply for a trade mark (external link) — Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand

This article was taken from the business.govt.nz website. Click HERE to see it in its entirety.


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