TM Check to provide clarity on trademarks

Business owners can avoid the mistake of registering a business name that has already been trademarked after the launch of a new Federal Government trade mark tool.


The TM Check tool was launched on Thursday by Innovation Minister Kim Carr and Small Business Minister Nick Sherry.


Carr said clever or memorable business names can be vital to the success of a business but choosing a name that is already trademarked can be a costly exercise involving legal bills, disputes and even the closure of a business.


“TM Check helps new businesses avoid these issues by identifying pending or registered trademarks that may be similar to their proposed name,” Senator Carr said.


“It helps to take the guesswork out of securing a business name and reduces the risk of a business infringing on a registered trademark.


“Business owners need to understand however that business name registration doesn’t give you any legal rights. Only a registered trademark can give you that kind of protection.”


A government spokesperson says it is important for businesses to understand the difference between trademarks and business names.


“A business name is a trading name only, registering a business name does not provide the owner with proprietary rights to that name,” the spokesperson says.


“A trademark identifies a product or a service, distinguishing it from other similar products or services.


“Registration of the trademark gives the owner the exclusive right to use the trademark for the goods and/or services for which it is registered. Registration usually covers the whole of Australia.”


The spokesperson also points out that TM Check is only a simplified search tool for trademarks, providing the user with only an indication of what already exists.


“Be aware that a search using TM Check will return a maximum of 10 results even if there are more trademarks that match your search criteria,” he says.


For more detailed searches business owners are encouraged to seek advice from a trademark attorney or another appropriately qualified person to conduct a search of ATMOSS.


“ATMOSS is the Australian Trade Marks Online Search System. Users have the ability to search IP Australia’s entire trademarks database or to search only certain categories of trademarks,” the spokesperson says.


“They also have the ability to customise their searches and combine search criteria. ATMOSS search results are likely to provide a fuller picture than TM Check although searching ATMOSS can be complex.”


TM Check is one of a number of new initiatives that form part of the Council of Australian Governments reforms to reduce the regulatory burden on business.


The project will deliver a national online registration process for business names and Australian Business Numbers, as well as improving ongoing online interaction between government and business via the Australian Business Account.


It will also introduce an online service to deliver tailored information to businesses about their regulatory requirements – including licences, registrations and permits – known as the Australian Business Licence and Information Service or ABLIS.


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