A trade mark can help an up and coming good or service get its name out in the open. Once you acquire a trade mark, you have created a representation with potential value attached to it. That is, you have made your word, phrase, logo, sound, shape, or scent a commodity and that commodity can increase in value as the goods or services it represents increase in value. Categorising a band name under goods and services might sound a little strange at first, but a band name does, in fact, fall under these classifications in most circumstances.
Considering the obvious benefits of getting your band name out there and protecting potential merchandising opportunities under intellectual property rights, you may be asking, where do I start if I want to trade mark my own band?
One important detail sets the process of creating a trade mark for a band name apart from, say, a brand name for a new kind of soap and that is, namely, the classifications that it falls under. Before getting to classification, you will want to conduct a thorough search on IP Australia to make absolutely certain that your band name does not infringe in any way with the names of other goods and services. Owing to the precise nature of IP Australia's search engine, checking the exact name once will likely not be enough to guarantee its availability. You should try alternate spellings of the name, including misspellings. Owing to the difficulties that go into the search process and the potentiality for infringement (including overseas disputes), it is always a good idea to communicate with expert advisors who can ensure the availability of your name and sort out any issues that might come up.
Trade marks classification
All trade marks fall under one or multiple of the classes listed on IP Australia. Classes 1-34 each describe different goods that a trade mark might represent and classes 35-45 describe services. The classifications mean that, even when another trade mark registered under your desired name exists, IP Australia may still allow you to register the name if your classes differ and if consumers will not likely confuse your trade mark with the preexisting one. If you find a trade mark similar to your band name and it is registered under one of the classes you wish to choose, you will likely need to choose a different name.
It is important to read through the classes and carefully choose based on the goods and services you want protected because, after filing, you cannot add more classes later on. Know what goods and services your band offers now and know also what you want those goods and services to expand into. Popular bands most frequently choose the classes 9, 16, 25, 26, and 41. Of course, each class you choose adds cost to your registration, so you may not want to choose all of these unless certain you will use them.
- Class 9 includes: Recorded and downloadable media and apparatus and instruments for reproducing or reprocessing sound.
- Class 16 includes: photographs and printed materials
- Class 25 includes: clothing
- Class 26 includes: buttons, pins, and false hair
- Class 41 (services) includes: entertainment
How do I register my band name?
Once you know the classes you will choose and you are certain of your band name's availability, you will be ready to apply for a trade mark registration at IP Australia. Of course, you want to be sure of its availability to avoid infringement, but also because if IP Australia rejects your application, you will not receive a refund. If you wish to forgo trade mark registration you can still use the logo on an available trade mark, but your goods or services will not be protected under intellectual property rights. The logo, which requires registration for use, signifies your trade mark is, indeed, protected and infringement will become an offence under the Trade Marks Act 1995. If you do not register and another party applies for a trade mark similar to your band name, fighting it could be a complicated and expensive process.
Will my trade mark be protected overseas?
When you register your trade mark with IP Australia, it is only protected in Australia. If you want overseas protection you will need to register in individual countries or through WIPO (the World Intellectual Property Organization). If you choose to register through WIPO you will likely want assistance from IP experts to help you through the complex process.
How long does a trade mark last?
After successfully registering, your trademark will last for a 10 year period, at the end of which you will have 6 months to renew it.
At Alder IP we can fight to protect your trade mark against non-use and infringement disputes. If you would like advice about registering a trade mark, patent, or copyright, contact our patent and trade mark experts for more info.