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A Guide to Trademark Registration in Australia with the Intellectual Property Office (IP Australia)


In 2024, Australia stands out as a premier choice for entrepreneurs and business ventures, offering an enticing blend of favorable business conditions, competitive tax policies, and a dynamic innovation ecosystem. Despite recent challenges, the Land Down Under maintains an environment conducive to growth and success in the global market. It boasts a secure and prosperous economy, characterized by a thriving construction industry and robust sectors such as healthcare, financial services, and transportation. This, coupled with a regulatory environment known for its adaptability and openness, provides entrepreneurs and business leaders with ample opportunities to capitalize on the country's abundant and diverse natural resources for innovation and expansion.

Against this backdrop, understanding the significance of trademark registration is paramount for businesses seeking to thrive amidst dynamic competition in Australia's diverse and resilient economic environment. By safeguarding brand identity, providing legal recourse, and building trust with consumers, trademark registration offers indispensable benefits. Furthermore, in an era of global expansion and evolving markets, securing trademark rights not only protects assets but also unlocks opportunities for growth and value enhancement. Let's take a closer look.

Trademark Registration in Australia: An Overview

Trademark registration in Australia is a vital step in protecting your brand, products, or services. It enables you to secure exclusive rights to your trademark, legally safeguarding your brand and distinguishing your offerings in the market. The registration process typically takes a minimum of 7 months but provides protection throughout the country for up to 10 years before renewal.

Unlike registering your business name or securing a domain name, trademark registration offers true exclusivity and legal protection for your brand identity. It's important to note that trademarks can encompass various elements, including logos, phrases, words, colors, sounds, smells, pictures, movements, aspects of packaging, or any combination thereof. However, not all terms, phrases, or images may be eligible for trademark registration, as some are considered common and should be available for general use. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for effectively safeguarding your business identity and ensuring the long-term success of your brand in the market.

Benefits of Trademark Registration in Australia

  1. Protection from Competitors: Registering your trademark early prevents competitors from using a similar one, securing your intellectual property under the 1995 Trademarks Act. Furthermore, it enables you to pursue infringers without the need to prove your business reputation, simplifying the legal process.

  2. Exclusive Usage Rights: Registration grants you exclusive rights to use your trademark across Australia, simplifying legal proceedings against infringers and facilitating international expansion.

  3. Business Asset: A registered trademark becomes an asset for your business, reflecting its value on your balance sheet and increasing as your business grows. This can enhance your company's overall value and attractiveness to investors.

  4. Legal Deterrence: Registering your trademark enables you to legally deter unauthorized usage, providing stronger legal recourse compared to unregistered trademarks.

  5. Brand Reputation: You can capitalize on your brand's positive reputation by selling or licensing your registered trademark to others, leveraging your brand's goodwill for additional revenue streams and partnerships.

  6. Legal Protection and Customs Assistance: Improper use of a registered trademark is a criminal offense, and you can enlist the Department of Home Affairs' assistance to intercept fraudulent shipments, ensuring stringent protection against counterfeit goods and illegal use of your trademark.

™ vs the ® Symbol: What's the Difference?

The ™ symbol shows that you're claiming trademark rights, alerting others that there may be legal rights connected to the trademark. It doesn't guarantee these rights, but it can help show that your mark is being used as a trademark and not just descriptively. Using the symbol is optional and can be placed anywhere, usually on the right side of the trademark.

The ® symbol indicates that your trademark is officially registered, showing strong legal rights that prevent others from using the same or similar trademark. It notifies others that your trademark is registered in Australia and helps deter infringement. Like the ™ symbol, using ® is optional and placed on the right side of the trademark, but only when it's registered.

National Applications vs Madrid Protocol

When it comes to trademark registration in Australia, you have two main options: National Applications and the Madrid Protocol system. You might choose the Madrid Protocol to register your trademark registration if you have a business operating in multiple countries and wish to protect your brand across different places using a single application.

For example, let's say a company based in Australia sells clothing internationally. Instead of filing separate trademark applications in each country where they do business, they can use the Madrid Protocol to seek trademark protection in all the countries where they operate, making the process easier and more efficient.

Requirements for National Applications

To file an application directly with IP, you must either be an Australian national, domiciled in Australia, or own a real and effective industrial or commercial establishment in Australia.  Each application should pay careful attention to the following:

1. Avoiding Conflicts: Your trademark must not conflict with existing trademarks, whether registered or unregistered. So, make sure to steer clear of trademarks that closely resemble those of other traders, especially if they offer similar goods or services.  Conduct preliminary searches to ensure your trademark doesn't clash with others, even if they're not registered. To do this, you can use the Australian Trademark Online Search System to check for similar trademarks or the Nominus Trademark Search Tool (please see Step 3 in our comprehensive guide below)

2. Distinctiveness Matters: Your trademark should be unique and not just describe your goods or services. Look for distinctive elements such as invented words or creative phrases that set your trademark apart and avoid using common terms that other traders may also need to use.

3. Language and Contents: The application must be in English and include:

  • A representation of the trademark

  • Specification of goods/services

  • Applicant's name and address

  • Priority claim, if applicable, which should be made at the time of filing or within two days. A certified copy of the Priority Document might be requested during examination.

  • Confirmation of payment of the application fee

4. Intention to Use: Applicants must have at least the intention to use the trademark at the time of filing. However, there is no requirement to prove use of the trademark in Australia for application maturity, registration, or maintenance and renewal purposes.

Please note that a Power of Attorney is not required for trademark registration in Australia.

For Foreigners

For foreigners interested in trademark registration in Australia, there are several options available:

1. Direct Application: Foreign individuals or companies can directly apply for trademark registration with IP Australia. However, they must either reside or have a place of business in Australia or appoint an authorized agent who resides in Australia to act on their behalf.
2. Madrid Protocol: Given that Australia is a member of the Madrid Protocol, foreigners who are residents or have a business in a member country can use the Madrid System to extend their trademark protection to Australia.

3. Hire a Trademark Attorney: Foreign applicants can also engage an Australian trademark attorney or agent to assist them with the registration process. These professionals can provide valuable guidance and ensure that the application meets all the necessary requirements.
Each option has its own set of requirements and considerations, so it's important for to carefully assess their circumstances and choose the most suitable approach for your trademark registration in Australia.

What are the Benefits of Hiring a Local Attorney?

Hiring a local attorney in Australia for trademark registration offers several benefits:

  • Expertise in Australian Law: Local attorneys specialize in Australian trademark law and regulations, ensuring compliance with local laws.

  • Guidance on Class Selection: They help accurately classify your goods or services to maximize protection.

  • Navigating the Process: Attorneys handle application filing, examination, and responses to objections efficiently.

  • Protection Against Objections: They can represent you and formulate strategies to overcome objections to your application.

  • Personalized Advice: Attorneys provide tailored advice to enhance the success of your registration.

  • Representation in Disputes: In case of disputes, they can advocate for your rights and pursue enforcement actions.

Overall, hiring a local attorney simplifies the registration process and provides legal support to protect your trademark rights in Australia. To minimize expenses and guarantee effective protection, Nominus is on hand to offer guidance. Our expertise ensures your trademark is registered correctly, providing the best safeguard for your business in Australia.

8-Step Guide to Trademark Certification in Australia

STEP 1: Identify the Trademark Owner

A trademark can be owned by:

  • One or more individuals

  • An incorporated company

  • The trustee(s) of a trust

  • A political body

  • A State, Territory, or Commonwealth government entity

STEP 2: Verify Your Eligibility

To apply for a trademark in Australia, you must:

  • Reside (or have an agent that resides) in Australia or New Zealand.

  • Intend to use the trademark for the goods and/or services in your application.

  • Alternatively, if you're a foreign applicant without residence in Australia or New Zealand, you must appoint a local agent to represent you in the application process.

STEP 3: Conduct Research

To avoid costly errors down the line, make sure to:

  • Understand the type of trademark you're applying for

  • Conduct a thorough search to confirm your idea (or similar) hasn't been registered.

  • Identify the appropriate class(es) of goods and services for your application.

Conducting a Trademark Validity Search

Before registering your trademark, it's important to make sure it's not already in use by someone else. Follow these steps to do a validity search:

1. Identify Classes: Begin by identifying the class(es) relevant to your product or service using our Trademark Class Search tool. Simply enter your product or service, and the tool will indicate the appropriate class(es) for registration.

2. Trademark Search: Once you have determined your class(es), you can utilize Nominus Trademark Search engine or visit your Australia's Trademark Office to conduct the search.

Figure 1. Nominus Trademark Search Tool

3. Try Different Combinations: During the search process, try various combinations and spellings of your trademark. For instance, if your trademark is "AMAZON," explore variations like "AMASON" or "HAMAZON" to cover all possibilities.

4. Seek Professional Help: Trademark searches can be complex and time-consuming. If you lack the time or expertise, consider our Trademark Study service. This comprehensive study provides insights into suitable trademark classes, a list of identical and similar trademarks, and recommendations from experienced attorneys regarding registration and trademark usage. You can also hire experts who specialize in trademark searches. They have access to more extensive databases and can help you find any conflicts. Please contact us at Nominus for more details.

5. Review Your Results: Look closely at the search results to see if any trademarks conflict with yours. Pay attention to similar industries or products.

6. Keep Records: Make sure to keep track of everything you find during your search. This will be useful later on during the registration process.

By conducting a comprehensive validity search, you can avoid potential problems and increase your chances of successfully registering your trademark

Identifying the Appropriate Class(es) of Goods and Services

Choosing the appropriate classes is crucial because your trademark's exclusive rights extend only to the goods and services specified in your application. Once your application is submitted, you cannot amend it to include additional goods and services. To include new ones, you must file a separate application. Therefore, selecting incorrect goods and services may result in insufficient protection for your trademark or rejection of your application, necessitating the submission of a new one.

Understanding the Nice Classification System

When submitting a trademark application, individuals or entities are required to categorize their products and services into one or more specific classes. There are 45 classes for trademark applications, categorized into goods (classes 1-34) and services (classes 35-45). This system, known as the Nice classification, has been adopted by 83 countries globally, facilitating international trademark applications by ensuring uniform class requirements across member states.
When determining which classes to file in, it's essential to consider the goods and services offered presently and in the future, as protection extends only to those specified in the application. For instance, a software development company may require protection in class 9 for software products and class 42 for software development services. Similarly, a coffee shop chain may need protection in class 30 for coffee products and class 43 for restaurant services.
To simplify the trademark registration process, IP Australia has introduced a valuable tool known as the picklist. This pre-made list of products and services offers a streamlined approach to selecting the appropriate class(es) for your trademark application, potentially saving both time and money. Let's look at each in turn:

  • Picklist: Streamlines the process by automatically selecting the correct class(es) based on your product or service from a pre-determined list of over 60,000 entries, minimizing the likelihood of errors. It's the standard and most cost-effective method of trademark filing, providing real-time cost calculation and ensuring transparency regarding the total expenses from the outset.

  • Non-Picklist: This requires more evaluation and may incur higher fees. A non-picklist application allows the applicant to provide their own descriptions instead of choosing from a picklist. This is typically used for unique products or services not listed in the picklist. Non-picklist applications incur slightly higher fees.

Top tips on how to select trademark classes and items:

  1. Are you safeguarding goods, services, or both? Select the appropriate classes based on your business activities.

  2. Consider your core business. Do you need protection for both the services you offer and the products you sell?

  3. Be flexible in your selection to allow for future expansion. Choose broader terms to encompass potential future products or services.

  4. Use variations of search terms to find the right classes. Experiment with different keywords related to your business activities.

  5. Once you've chosen a class, specify the items within that class that you wish to protect. Ensure your application only applies to relevant items.

  6. Focus on covering your core goods and services only. Avoid selecting classes for internal business tasks or promotional items.

STEP 4: Choose an Application Service

When filing an application, applicants can choose between different application services: 

1) National Applications:

Standard Online Application

This is a straightforward process that only applies to Australia. You file your trademark directly with the Australian authorities. For this you'll need to provide the following details:

  • Owner's name and address for service.

  • The trademark itself.

  • The relevant classes for registration.

  • A statement outlining the goods and services associated with the trademark.

2) Headstart Online Application

IP Australia provides an expedited online trademark filing service called TM Headstart, accessible through their online platform, to assist in assessing the suitability of your proposed trademark for registration. This tool helps identify any potential barriers to registering your trademark. It's perfect if you're new to trademark registration trademark it can give you an added confidence boost:

  1. Tailored for First-Timers: Whether it's your first time applying for a trademark or you want to ensure your application is accurate, TM Headstart can be a good place to start.

  2. Feedback and Error Correction: With TM Headstart, an examiner provides feedback on your application, helping you fix any errors before you officially submit it. This helps speed up the process and improves your chances of success.

  3. Quick Service: TM Headstart offers fast turnaround times, so you get feedback and can make corrections promptly.

Keep in mind that while TM Headstart provides valuable assistance, there are additional fees associated with the service. You can find the latest fees on the IP online platform.

STEP 5: Gather Your Documents

You'll require the following:

  • Ownership and contact details (including postal address)

  • Representation of your trademark (e.g., logo image or sound recording)

  • List of goods and/or services your trademark applies to and their related class number(s)

  • Payment details

Step 6: Submit Your Application

  • Create an account with IP Australia online.

  • Complete the application form, which typically takes 15 minutes, with the option to save your progress.

The trademark application is very concise and consists of the following sections to be completed:

  • Trademark Details: Covering essential information about the trademark itself, such as its design and accompanying elements.

  • Trademark Kind: Indicating the type of trademark being registered, whether it consists of words, shapes, images, sounds, colors, aspects of packaging or combinations of any of these.

  • Translations: If your trademark includes a non-English word or phrase, your will need to provide a translation.

  • Divisional Applications: This allows you to split your original application into separate parts, each covering distinct goods or services. This can be useful if the original application faces objections or if the applicant wishes to pursue different aspects of their trademark independently.

  • Entity Details:  Information about the applicant, including name, address, and legal entity type. If the applicant resides in Australia or New Zealand, only owner details are required. Otherwise, agent details are needed, including information about the entity authorized to act on behalf of the trademark. The agent must have an address in Australia or New Zealand and a recorded email address for electronic correspondence regarding the trademark.

Figure 2. IP Australia Trademark Application Form

STEP 7: Formal Examination

This usually takes three to four months. You'll be notified of the outcome via your online services inbox. You can monitor the progress of your application by logging on to your online IP account.

STEP 8: Publication in the Official Bulletin

If your application is successful, your trademark will be published for two months in the Australian Official Journal of Trademarks and the Australian Trademark Search. During this period, anyone can oppose your trademark. If there are no oppositions or you successfully overturn them, your trademark application will be approved, certifying your registration for 10 years, with the option to renew.

Maintaining your Trademark

To ensure the ongoing protection and validity of your trademark, follow these essential steps:

  1. Regular Monitoring: Keep an eye on the market to spot any unauthorized use of your trademark. Monitor online platforms, industry events, and trade publications for potential infringements.

  2. Renewal: Stay informed about renewal deadlines and submit necessary paperwork and fees promptly to prevent expiration.

  3. Active Use: Continuously use your trademark in commerce to maintain its strength and distinctiveness.

  4. Update Contact Details: Keep your contact information current with the trademark office to receive important notifications.

  5. Record-Keeping: Maintain organized records of your trademark registration, including certificates and evidence of usage.

  6. Enforcement: Take action against unauthorized use or infringement to protect your trademark rights.

By staying vigilant and proactive, you can preserve the integrity and value of your trademark over time.


Trademark registration is a vital step to safeguard your intellectual property rights. In this blog, we've broken down the essential steps for trademark registration in Australia, offering valuable insights and practical tips: from ensuring eligibility and classifying goods and services to conducting validity searches and considering legal counsel. By following these steps, you're not just securing your trademark but also safeguarding your brand's future. So, dive in, get started, and protect your intellectual property with confidence!

Disclaimer: The content offered here is intended for informational purposes only. The information presented here is not a replacement for legal or professional counsel, and it should not be considered as such. For legal guidance, it is essential to consult with an experienced trademark attorney.