Have you made these 5 mistakes?

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We all know that starting and managing a business is no easy task.

Getting the business basics right when you are starting out, including legal and brand protection advice, is essential. From choosing a brand name, to registration, to obtaining a trade mark, there’s a lot to consider including these five things.

# 1. Choosing a generic brand name
Many business owners believe a brand name has to be descriptive to their  product, service or location. They therefore select a generic brand or business name, such as ‘Melbourne Butcher’. Instead of focusing on something that describes what your business does, choose a name that is full of personality – save the descriptive and locational statements for the tagline. A distinctive brand name will distinguish your business in the marketplace and it is beneficial from a trade mark perspective, making it easier for you to enforce your rights if another business begins using a similar name.

# 2. Failing to conduct a thorough brand clearance
Before you launch your brand ensure you have conducted a thorough brand clearance. Many startup founders fail to do this correctly and it can be a costly error. Even with an entirely original innovation, enlist the help of a legal professional to conduct availability clearances for every country in which you intend to launch your brand. This will help you to determine if there are any pre-existing trade mark registrations for a similar brand/product and mitigate risks from the outset.

# 3. Believing registering a business name is all that is required
Registering a business name or domain name does not allow you any exclusivity; it is simply the name you trade under. Before you begin creating any corporate collateral, conduct a thorough brand clearance and secure a trade mark. Without this, you have no right of ownership and may be at risk of trade mark infringement.

# 4. Only trade marking a logo
If only the logo is registered, only the logo is protected. If the logo is comprised of both words and images, the words or the images alone are not covered by the trade mark. When applying for a trade mark, all of the brand elements must be individually registered. Begin by securing the trade mark for the words followed by the images. This provides you the flexibility to use the words and images either individually or in conjunction with each other in all of your business collateral.

# 5. Assuming trade mark applications are easy
Only one in four trade mark applications is approved by IP Australia, and a failed application is an expense no business wants to incur. When applying for a trade mark, you need to ensure that you are covered for a broad range of services that align with your current operations and your future business aspirations. Trade mark applications are complex, so obtaining advice from a qualified trade mark attorney is important to ensure that your brand is protected now and into the future.

Kate Ritchie
Kate Ritchie is a strategically focused Principal Lawyer and Trade Marks Attorney with both commercial and business services and legal experience. Kate founded Ethikate in 2014 with a passion for providing specialist advice and services in Intellectual Property Law, Trade Marks and Brand Protection Strategies, business and commercial law and entertainment and media law for start-ups, entrepreneurs and small to medium businesses. Ethikate has been named as a finalist in the boutique law firm category of the Victorian Legal Awards.

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