Who is the proper applicant for a trade mark ?

14 03 2012

We are often asked, does it matter who the applicant for registration of a trade mark is ? It is essential that the correct trade mark owner be named as the applicant for registration of your trade mark.  Incorrectly naming the applicant can give rise to potential cancellation of the trade mark from the Trade Mark Register in the future.

The proper owner of a registered trade mark is either the first person to use that mark in Australia in respect of the designated goods or services (if that use is prior to the application to register the mark) or otherwise the first person to apply to use that mark in respect of the designated goods or services where that person intends to use that mark.

A person can use (or intend to use) a trade mark by applying the trade mark to goods or services themselves, or by way of licensing third parties to use the trademark.   Accordingly, if you are using a trademark under licence from someone else, you may not be the appropriate applicant for the trademark.  Instead, the person who licences your use (the licensor) would be the correct applicant for registration of the trademark.

You should also be aware that, prior to registration, the right to apply for a trade mark by reason of first using the trade mark flows with the goodwill associated with the trade mark,  for example, if you purchase a business but not the goodwill in the business, you may not have obtained clear title to apply for trade marks used in the business.  Clear proof of title should be assured prior to applying for a trade mark on the basis of first use.  If there is any doubt, you should obtain an assignment of the goodwill and the trade marks from any other previous and current users of the trade mark, prior to applying for registration.

It is possible that two or more persons have an interest in a trade mark so that they should be named as joint owners,  for example, use of a trade mark by a partnership or joint venture may give rise to joint ownership.  It may be advisable for the partnership or joint venture to incorporate a vehicle for the ownership of intellectual property and assign the trade mark and goodwill associated with it to that corporate vehicle.  That vehicle can then apply for registration of the trade mark and licence back the trade mark to the partners or joint venturers.

Before you apply for trade mark registration, think about who the proper applicant should be.

Need an expert law firm
you can trust to help with registering a trademark?

Contact us today for a free 30 minute consultation for your expert legal advice today

Get your Free Consultation

Some of the clients we have worked with