If you are the registered owner of a trade mark, you have the right to exclusively use your trade mark within Australia over the classes of goods and services that you have registered the trade mark for. This includes licensing the mark, assigning the mark, selling the mark, or even using the mark as security.
As the registered owner of a trade mark however, it becomes chiefly your duty to enforce any infringements over your registered trade mark and to defend any actions by your competitors to register trade marks which look similar to your own. A failure to act quickly in these matters may result in your brand losing its impact and distinctiveness.
One of the more common scenarios occurs where a competitor is using a trade mark which is similar or identical to your registered trade mark. As previously discussed you should always act quickly to protect your rights. Your clients could be confused and mistake your competitor’s products for your own, and that degrades the goodwill for your product. Your competitor is also possibly profiting from the goodwill for your product, goodwill that has probably been developed through your own marketing efforts.
If a stern letter from your solicitor does not resolve the situation then you would seek orders from the court restraining your competitors from behaving in this matter. In certain circumstances you may seek from your competitor all of the profits they made while using your mark.
Objecting to Trade Mark Registrations
You should always be vigilant about what your competitors are doing. This also extends to what kind of trade marks they intend to register. While part of the trade mark registration process includes an examination process by an examiner of trade marks, the examiner may not be well acquainted with the industry and your competitors. This is why the trade mark registration process also includes an opposition period, where you would formally object to the registration of your opponent’s trade mark. The window of opportunity for doing this is quite small, so you must be alert at all times of what your opponents intend to do.
At the end of the day, only you can enforce your rights over your trade marks. You should always be vigilant and mindful of what the market and what your competitors are up to.