Referring to Other Services? Careful!

There’s more than one way how to make a dollar and some of these ways rely on other pre-established services. For example, there are are a large number of SEO businesses who say that they are able to achieve a high organic search ranking on search engine websites such as “Google”. You can find these types of services anywhere, especially if the service referred to is important to other businesses.

You should still be careful if you are engaging in such practices, as it could be more trouble than it’s worth. Some time ago we came across an enquiry where an entrepreneur raised the question of incorporating the logo of another service into his business cards to refer to how the entrepreneur could assist their clients in relation to the other service. This was a well known service, with a very high visibility on the internet. The answer to that question is a resounding no. The use of another business’s registered (or unregistered) trade mark is likely to be considered trade mark infringement, even if the brand is well known and plastered everywhere in the public. How another business treats their trade mark is their concern and just because it is readily available doesn’t permit you to use their trade mark.

It goes further than that. Even if you avoid using the other business’s logo, if you copy the look and feel of another business or service’s website or their colours, this might be enough to mislead the public and into thinking that you act for or are related to the business or service you are referring to. If you engage in such practices, you might be staring down the path of a nasty letter, or even worse, litigation by either the business you are referring to or the ACCC.

The logic behind these restrictions is to prevent scenarios where consumers might think that you act for or you are related to the business that you are referring to. This can cause damage to the other business’s brand or reputation, or even to their sales, if you are engaged in a similar line of work.

These warnings also apply to situations where you might be engaged in comparative advertising  (in which you should be even more careful of what you’re doing).

All in all – if you are referring to other businesses or services – watch what you’re doing!