Your business’s Intellectual Property (IP) is extremely valuable. It covers a wide range of intangible assets from your ideas and inventions, to your logos, branding or art. It represents the hard work and dedication you’ve poured into making your business unique and successful – what sets you apart from others.
Businesses of any size, and in any industry, can fall victim to IP infringements. It’s crucial to do your due diligence to ensure you have all the necessary protections in place for your own assets. This also ensures you’re not infringing on anyone else and making yourself vulnerable to legal action.
But, we acknowledge that it can be time consuming (and confusing) to go through the legal formalities if you’re not familiar with how it all works. In fact, we’ve just recently been through the process with the help of Aintree Group Legal, over 18 years since Aintree Group was established.
A Case Study on us – The value of having the right help
This one is unusual because we (Aintree Group) were actually the client!
We’d looked at trademarking for years, and always ran into roadblocks and found the process difficult to understand. We also weren’t exactly sure what we did and did not need protection for. Coupled with being time-poor business owners ourselves, it was one of those tasks that just kept getting pushed back on our to-do list, even if we knew deep down it was an important thing to tick off.
Cue the launch of Aintree Group Legal, and suddenly we had the right expertise at our fingertips and we started the application.
We put in an enquiry with Peter (Director of Aintree Group Legal), who worked closely with Shane and Chelsea to create a trademark application for our logo and words across three different classes.
Peter’s insight was incredibly valuable. He was able to identify exactly what we did (and didn’t) need to trademark, and what combination was the most cost effective to ensure the most protection, without reaching out beyond our industry. Within a few months, Aintree Group had a Registered Trademark keeping their intellectual property safe.
However, this is also a cautionary tale. Our case also shows how important it is to be on the front foot, and be proactive around trademarking something that you value. Although we successfully received a Registered Trademark for our logo, we ran into issues trying to trademark the business name “Aintree Group”.
One particular trademarking limitation is that it is difficult to register marks that include a place name. Unfortunately, while we dilly-dallied getting the right trademarking advice, the Melbourne suburb of Aintree was established in 2017. Unbeknownst to us, this immediately restricted our ability to trademark anything with the word “Aintree” in it – despite Aintree Group existing first. We can embark on a process to prove to IP Australia that we were using the name first, but it would be complex and costly, and easily avoidable had we prioritised our IP when first establishing the business.
So, there are two key lessons to be learned from our experience:
- Firstly, you should always protect your IP as soon as possible when starting your business, because you never know what might change further down the track, and prevention is always better than cure. Just registering a business name with ASIC does not provide you with any IP protection. In the meantime someone else might register the same or a similar trademark with IP Australia, or you might simply not be able to register your brand for reasons beyond your control – just like happened with the name Aintree.
- Secondly, if you are starting a new business and looking at what to call it, keep in mind that if you are intending to name your business after the suburb it operates in, you’re going to severely restrict your ability to register trademarks and protect your IP.
Take Action – Prioritise IP in 2023
If trademarking is something you keep putting off, you’re definitely not alone. But this is your sign to do something about it in 2023.
Aintree Group Legal can assist with the following advice on intellectual property and trademarking services:
- Intellectual Property due diligence and auditing;
- Registering trademark or patent applications;
- Advising you on copyright:
- Brand protection advice and management;
- Recommending asset protection structures;
- Disputes relating to Intellectual Property, trademark infringements and oppositions;
- Preparing all forms and documentation relating to Intellectual Property rights, including licence agreements and IP assignment deeds.
Get in touch with our legal team today for a free trademark consultation, so they can help protect what you’ve worked so hard to build.