Given that a registered trade mark is a valuable business asset, it is worthwhile weighing up the advantages of a registered trade mark versus the risk of engaging in commercial activity without legal protection for your intellectual property.
There are a number of variables when it comes to the cost of registering a trade mark, so it is not possible to give a definitive unit cost per application. However, it is widely accepted that the cost of trade mark registration in Australia is reasonable.
You can either DIY your trade mark application or engage the services of a trade marks attorney. Professional help can reduce the risk of incurring additional expenses, plus it will provide reassurance that you are protecting your trade mark in the best possible way.
The cost of trade mark registration
Prior to lodging your application, it is highly recommended that you conduct a comprehensive trade mark search to ensure your intended mark is a) available and b) doesn’t infringe on another trader’s rights.
There are free search options, plus you have the choice of more comprehensive paid searches.
DIY trade mark registration
IP Australia is the government agency that administers intellectual property (IP) rights and legislation for trade marks in Australia. Any application for trade mark protection in Australia is done through this agency.
You can go about trade mark registration essentially in two ways with IP Australia, and their official fees are as follows:
Firstly, there is their Headstart service which carries a minimum cost of $330 per class of goods/services (presuming a clear result). An examiner will assess your trade mark and provide feedback within about 5 business days. Amendments can then be made prior to final submission (additional costs may be incurred).
The $330 fee is made up of an initial $200 fee per class of goods/services + $130 per class to convert the application to a formally filed application after it has been assessed.
You can also file a trade mark application via IP Australia’s standard process. This will be examined in around 3-4 months, and you may not be able to make certain changes as you can using the Headstart option in the event of an adverse report being issued.
This costs a minimum of $250 for per class of goods/services.
It should be noted that the cost of application depends on the number of classes of goods and services registered. There are 45 classes or categories of goods and services comprising over 60 000 descriptions which IP Australia has distilled into a ‘picklist’ to simplify the process.
It is cheaper to use this picklist than to describe your products and services in your own words.
A trade mark application with the picklist is $250 per class, increasing to $400 per class without the picklist.
The more classes you apply for, the higher the filing cost for the overall application.
Cost of applying for a series trade mark
A series trade mark application enables the registration of more than one trade mark in a single application, provided that the main identifying features of the various trade marks are the same and that the differences are within the allowances made for series marks.
For example, a brand offering a range of products such as clothing, footwear and headgear could apply for a series mark (ZILKA clothing, ZILKA shoes and ZILKA caps). The key consideration is that the main identity of each mark must be the same and in this example the differences are simply the representation concerning the goods. Other differences allowed, for example, are to do with price, quality, colour and location.
A series trade mark application is $400 with the picklist and $550 without the picklist.
There may be rare circumstances in which you can add new classes of goods and services to an existing application at additional cost. These costs again very depending on the type of application filed and whether the pick list has been used.
Cost of postal applications
Note that postal applications attract an additional fee.
Cost of extensions
The end-to-end registration process takes at least seven and a half months. Where an adverse report issues following examination, this provides the applicant 15 months to respond to the report. Situations may arise which require additional time to address (eg errors in the application, the need to file evidence, special circumstances etc) and you may need to apply for an extension.
Official extension of time fees (in respect of trade mark applications under examination) are $100 per month or part thereof.
Fee for international applications
With the growth in global trading and more and more businesses competing across country borders, international trade marks have become increasingly prevalent.
The cost of an application for a trade mark outside Australia depends on:
- Government and professional fees
- The number of classes of goods and/or services involved
- How many countries – and which countries – you wish to apply for
- Whether you apply using the Madrid Protocol or through the individual countries’ trade mark offices
Cost of renewing a trade mark application
Trade marks aren’t valid in perpetuity. In Australia, trade mark registration lasts 10 years with an indefinite option to renew every 10 years thereafter. If you renew online, the is $400 per class.
If your trade mark registration has expired, the cost is $100 for every month or part thereof after the expiry date (plus the cost of renewal).
Cost of engaging a trade marks attorney or IP lawyer
You can apply for trade mark registration on your own and there is absolutely no obligation to engage a trade marks professional. However, it may be in your best interests to outsource the responsibility as specialist support ensures the process is handled smoothly, thoroughly and seamlessly.
The cost of engaging a trade marks professional to handle your application varies from firm to firm. Their fees can depend on their level of experience, the service they provide, the complexity of the matter etc, but it is possible to find an affordable trade marks attorney who can successfully establish widespread legal protections for your valuable intellectual property.