Registering a trade mark is a powerful way of protecting an organisation’s name, regardless of whether it is a commercial entity or a not-for-profit. Although many charities do not see trade mark registration as a priority, it is inexpensive and easy to accomplish.
Three of the most common trade mark myths for charities are:
Myth 1: A charity doesn't need a trade mark
Do not fall for this myth! A charity’s goodwill in its name is one of its most important assets, because it is a charity’s name that allows it to secure funding and support from the public. A trade mark can help to ensure that other organisations do not free-ride off an established charity’s good name and image, and also ensure that the public is not confused by similar sounding organisations. For charities seeking to establish themselves, a trade mark is an important step in building awareness and recognition in the public’s eyes.
Myth 2: ASIC or ACNC registration is enough
Incorporating a company with ASIC (Australian Securities & Investments Commission) or registering with the ACNC (Australian Charities & Not-for-Profits Commission) will only stop other organisations from registering under an identical, or very similar name, but will not provide the basis for a legal cause of action. A registered trade mark enables a charity to stop others using their name, whether as an organisation name, as part of a promotional campaign, or as a trading name.
Myth 3: Getting a trade mark is too expensive
A basic trade mark registration can be quick and inexpensive, and provide protection across Australia for an initial 10 year period. Unlike other sources of intellectual property rights, a trade mark can last perpetually, provided that it is renewed. International Treaties also provide a simpler process for extending trade mark protection to other countries, should a charity wish to expand its operations.
Please contactif you have any questions about trade marks, or want to find out more about protecting your charity or commercial organisation.