Your brand is often the cornerstone of your business.

Register your business name as a trade mark before you start trading (or as soon as possible after that)

There are actually businesses out there (I like to call them “sharks”) that make a living from seeing which businesses have rising profiles, they then check to see if these businesses have their business name registered as a trade mark. If not, the sharks then register the business name as a trade mark and offer to sell it back to the business owner at an extortionate rate. This is not illegal, because trade marks are registered on a “first come, first served” basis generally.

If someone has got your business name registered as a trade mark, the only way to get it removed is through the courts, and legal costs are likely to be in the region of $200,000 for a contested case. The outcome of litigation is never guaranteed, and you might end up losing the name anyway.

Use a trade mark lawyer or trade mark attorney

When my son was 8 he used to cut his own hair and it took me years to convince him that just because he could, does not mean he should.  The same applies to trade marks. While you can register your own trade mark, this does not mean you should. Government fees of $330 apply per trade mark class (or category). Your goods or services might fall into more than one category. A specialist trade mark lawyer will be able to advise you on this.

Just this week, I had a client who wasted $3300 on government fees because: Her trade mark was so descriptive it was never going to get through to acceptance without a logo (which she failed to file it with), and She selected 10 classes to protect her trade mark in when she only needed two ($660 vs the $3300 she actually paid in government fees), and The goods and services she claimed in those classes were inadequate protection for her anyway.

We could not rescue that trade mark application, but we were able to file a new application (with an appropriate logo), in just two classes, which cost her less than her initial self-filing attempt. With that she gets a guarantee of registration from us, plus she does not have to worry about getting the formalities right.

Another client of mine took advice from the government agency that processes trade marks and ended up with very narrow (almost useless) trade mark protection. When he wanted to complain I had to explain to him that government agencies do not give legal advice and cannot be held to account. If a trade mark lawyer had given him that advice he could have got them to file a new, broader application at no charge, because the narrow range of goods (limited in his case to “wooden toys”) did not give him effective protection (a competitor started using his trade mark on plastic toys).

For a free check of the strength of your business or brand name, or a free trade mark quote, email  Cathryn on

Book a free 15 minute telephone consultation with Cathryn by clicking this link to Cathryn's calendar 

Cathryn Warburton is the Legal Lioness. Finding the courage to overcome severe bullying as a child instilled in her a passion to protect others. As a skilled litigator, she indulges in her dream to push-back against business-bullies who target her clients. She is an international award-winning lawyer and patent attorney and 4-time published author. Cathryn bullet-proofs her client’s businesses and gets them out of legal hot water. She champions the goal that no business is left without access to affordable, easy-to-understand legal information. She does this through her books, legal workshops and 1-2-1 legal services.

Please note that this blog is provided for general informational purposes only. Each legal situation differs. Reading this blog cannot replace obtaining specific legal advice. We recommend that you obtain legal advice for your specific situation. Some identifying details may have been changed in this blog, for privacy reasons.