Fashion labels such as Zimmermann, ASOS, and Mimco need some way to shield themselves from imitation and theft, but how do they achieve this? These businesses protect themselves with registered trademarks. If you wish to gain a similar advantage for your fashion brand or business, you may benefit from registering a trademark.

How does it work?

A fashion trademark is a sign used to distinguish a brand in the marketing and sale of goods and services. This could consist of anything such as a word, image, colour, scent, or a combination of these. For instance, the Nike trademark relates not only to the word ‘NIKE’, but also to the iconic ‘Swoosh’ logo.

While unregistered trademarks still provide companies some level of protection, registration is the safest and most advantageous route. The process of registering a trademark can be complicated and, as such, it is advisable to seek professional advice.

Importantly, a registered trademark cannot protect businesses from every kind of intellectual property theft, such as another company imitating the design of a garment. However, there are separate mechanisms to protect against such conduct, under the Designs Act 2003 and the Copyright Act 1968.

What are the advantages of registering your fashion trademark?

There are a number of advantages associated with registering a trademark in respect of your fashion brand or business, including:

  • Registered trademarks allow you to easily differentiate your products from competitors, through use of the ‘TM’ or ® symbol. This is particularly beneficial in the highly competitive fashion industry, which is centred on brand names and product recognition.
  • A holder of a registered trademark has the right to sell their trademark or licence its use to others within Australia.
  • Registered trademarks are a solid legal basis on which to prevent others from imitating your brand. This is advisable, as imitators have the potential to damage reputation and diminish sales.
  • While registered trademarks only provide protections within Australia, they may form the basis of an application for international trademark registration under the Madrid Protocol. Such registration would provide protection for your trademark in the 97 member nations. This is a significant advantage in the increasingly global fashion market.

What should you do if someone is using your fashion trademark?

If another business is using a sign that is substantially identical or deceptively similar to your fashion trademark, it may be appropriate to issue a ‘Cease and Desist’ letter or take them to court.