Trademark provides protection
How important is a good brand name in the fashion industry?
A good brand name can help a designer stand out. But to become a successful brand, it should be backed up by a strong collection with an original point of view. The best brand names tend to be unique and memorable. The more distinctive a brand name, the easier it will be to register as a trademark. When choosing a brand name, make sure that you are not infringing on anyone else's trademark. You can find out what trademarks are registered in Australia on IP Australia's ATMOSS trademark database (ipaustralia.gov.au). If a similar name is already registered for similar products to yours, you might want to seek legal advice or simply decide on a different name.
Once I have a name and people follow my brand, how do I protect it?
A brand can be protected with a registered trademark, which will give you the legal right to prevent others from using your brand name. You can apply for an Australian trademark online at IP Australia, or a trademark attorney can help. If you are selling overseas, you should also think about registering your trademark in your main markets. Designers often think registering a business name automatically protects their brand. In fact, only a trademark will allow you to stop others from using your name. Trademarks can protect not only names but logos, images and packaging if they are distinctive and identifiable by consumers.
A competitor is copying my product range or the look and style of my brand. How do I stop them?
If a competitor is copying your brand name, and you have a registered trademark, you could take action against them for trademark infringement. If someone is copying the general look and feel of your website, swing tags and clothing, you might be able to take action against them for passing off, if you can prove you have a reputation in the marketplace. If someone has copied your prints or photographs, you might have an action in copyright infringement. If you have registered any of your garment designs and they are copied, you could look into infringement of your registered design.
■ Eunika Janus is marketing manager NSW of IP Australia.
- Interviewed by Miriam Steffens.