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Copyright protection is free

Copyright protection is free and automatic in Australia and protects the original expression of ideas, but not the ideas themselves.

How it works: The moment an idea or creative concept is documented, on paper or electronically, it is automatically protected by copyright. Because it is automatic in Australia, there is no official registry or application process for copyright protection. Copyright protection is provided under the Copyright Act 1968 and gives you exclusive rights to license others in regard to copying your work, performing it in public, broadcasting it, publishing it and making an adaptation of the work. Rights vary according to the nature of the work. Those for artistic works, for instance, are different from those for literary and musical works. Legal actions against infringement are at times complicated by the fact that a number of different copyrights may exist in some works – particularly films, broadcasts and multimedia products. Copyright doesn’t protect you against independent creation of a similar work. Copyright laws differ from country to country, however Australia is party to a number of treaties that increase the copyright protection of international works. A design refers to the features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation which gives a product a unique appearance, and must be new and distinctive. Design registration is intended to protect designs which have an industrial or commercial use. A registered design gives you the owner, exclusive rights to commercially use it, license or sell it.

What is a trade mark? A trade mark is used to distinguish the goods and services of one trader from those of another. A trade mark is a right that is granted for a letter, number, word, phrase, sound, smell, shape, logo, picture and/or aspect of packaging.  A registered trade mark is legally enforceable and gives you exclusive rights to commercially use, licence or sell it for the goods and services that it is registered under.

Application Time Frames
Trade marks generally take three to four months to examine from the day they are filed. If you believe that you will be seriously disadvantaged because of the time taken between filing and examination, you can request that your application be examined sooner. There are no fees associated with lodging an application to expedite your application. However, it must be accompanied by a witnessed declaration detailing the reasons for your request. Expedited Examination and Declaration form PDF Meeting requirements: The Trade Marks Act 1995 allows you 15 months from the date of the examiner’s first report to meet any requirements identified by the examiner and to have your application accepted by the registrar. If you need more time you can request and pay for an extension of time. From 15 to 21 months, you can be granted an extension on payment of the appropriate fee, if your request is made before the date specified in the examiner’s report. If you wish to make a late request or a request for an extension beyond 21 months, you must accompany it with the appropriate fee and make the request on specific grounds. You also need to provide a witnessed declaration supporting the grounds which explain the reasons why you need more time. Not all late requests or requests for an extension beyond 21 months are accepted and fees are not refundable. If your trade mark application is not accepted and it runs out of time, it will lapse.

The registration fee must be paid no later than six months from the date acceptance is advertised. The registrar will record the details of your trade mark in the Register of Trade Marks, then send you a certificate of registration. Your trade mark will be registered from the date you filed your application – not from the date it was examined or accepted. The earliest date your trade mark can be registered is around seven and a half months after an application is filed. This fulfills IP Australia’s international obligations to allow six months for applicants to claim a priority date based on an overseas filing.

The initial period of registration of your trade mark lasts for 10 years (calculated from the filing date). You can renew the registration of your trade mark between 12 months before the renewal is due or up to 6 months after its expiry date. Additional fees apply if the registration is renewed after the expiry date. They will send you a renewal reminder notice to the address for service recorded on their database, advising the timeframes for renewal and how to make payment. It is important that you notify their office in writing, if you change your address for service otherwise you will not receive your reminder notice for renewal. The registrar will renew your trade mark registration when all applicable fees are paid.
Please note that fees are subject to change. GST does not apply to these statutory fees under Division 81 of the GST Act 1999

This post is an extract from IP Australia and has been posted as a useful guide. Please research the topic thoroughly before proceeding to register a trademark.

Robert Kelzke. Creative and Managing Director. Graphic Designers Melbourne KG Advertising.
Phone: 03 9974 0364 or 0449 590 669    Email: