By Damian Ward, Partner
A matter of ever-increasing interest and importance in the not-for-profit and charity sector is the rise of branding.
In an ultra-competitive fundraising environment, creating, profiling, maintaining and protecting a brand that creates a positive sense of how and why you do what you do is essential.
Earning and enhancing a reputation for integrity and credibility is key. The relative sophistication and style of your branding can be an essential element in this regard.
Whilst there are many aspects to establishing a strong brand including word of mouth, strong associations and affiliations, media and social profile and managing deftly the online space, the name and logo you may use are also important.
Whilst an organisation’s brand means much more than its name and logo, these are important components in creating a niche and establishing yourself.
Registering Trade Marks is traditionally the most time and cost effective means by which brand protection takes place.
In this process specialists assist in preparing and lodging with IP Australia Trade Mark applications. After an administrative process takes place, you hopefully receive registration of the Trade Mark.
This gives you an effective monopoly on the use, utilisation and exploitation of that mark. If anyone seeks to use a mark or branding that is substantially identical or deceptively similar to the registered mark, you have rights under the Trade Marks Act 1995 (Clth) to stop them in Court.
This may include an application for an injunction, which is in the nature of a Court order to prohibit them from using the mark. A court may also award damages for any loss you suffer as a result. Ordinarily, an injunction is the remedy that the party seeks.
You do not have to register a Trade Mark to earn some degree of protection in the law. However, it is harder to stop someone seeking to spring board off your hard and well earned reputation. Your rights are much less clear. The main complication is you will need to establish that you are known within a particular sector as the entity which holds that branding. This is easier said than done. It often involves a historical trawl through your records to establish how long a period of time you have been branded in the way you have.
Further, the protections under the Trade Marks Act is wider than may be available at general law, and allows you to more forcefully and effectively protect your brand.
Aspects of branding that may be trade marked are names, logos, symbols and other identifiers.
If protecting your brand is important to you, taking this inexpensive step generally provides the best protection you can get.
This article originally appeared in Third Dimension – Summer 2014.
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