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As a personal trainer, your work environment has evolved over time. Clients are now open to the idea of exercising in their own homes while video calling or watching a pre-recorded workout. In this market, protecting your intellectual property (IP) as a personal trainer is very important. Your IP includes your branding and your content. If you want to protect your IP as a personal trainer, you should protect your: 

  • brand and distinguish yourself from other personal trainers; and
  • content, goods and services.

Protecting Your Brand

Creating a strong personal brand will mean that:

  • clients recognise your brand quickly and easily; and 
  • you are in a better position to defend your rights against intellectual property infringement.

You can establish your brand by making it as unique and original as possible and correctly using intellectual property tools. When it comes to establishing your brand, two important steps are registering:

Trade Mark

A trade mark is an intellectual property right you can use to protect different aspects of your brand, including:

  • words; 
  • logos; 
  • sounds;
  • smells;
  • colours; and
  • any detail that differentiates your brand from others.

A trade mark grants you rights to your intellectual property that others cannot access unless you give them permission. A registered trade mark gives you:

  • exclusive use of the mark; and
  • legal protection in the case of infringement.

The Intellectual Property Office New Zealand (IPONZ) has a trade mark search tool on their website which allows you to search existing registered trade marks. If you want to ensure that your trade mark material is unique, you may want to use the trade mark search tool. The tool allows you to search by a number of filters. This means you can enter different aspects of your brand, such as a phrase or picture of your logo.

Once you have completed this search, you can proceed to registering your trade mark material. You can register your trade mark via the IPONZ website. IPONZ will approve your application if you meet certain requirements and your trade mark is original and unique. An unregistered trade mark will also provide some limited rights. An unregistered trade mark must:

  • have a significant reputation in your market;
  • have been in your market for a considerable amount of time; and 
  • be recognisable by your clients as yours. 

Company Name

If you are working for yourself, you may want to register your company name. Similarly to registering a trade mark, you can do an initial search of registered company names both here in New Zealand and overseas. This can be done on the New Zealand Companies Office (NZCO) website. Once you are sure that your company name is unique, you can complete an online application on the NZCO website to register it. 

Protecting Your Content

Once you have a strong brand and you are ready to produce content for clients, there are still steps you can take to protect your intellectual property. 

For example, if you are creating workout videos to be shared on social media, you may want to: 

  • protect them from being shared without permission or credit; or 
  • prevent others from using them for their own benefit or profit. 

You can protect your intellectual property by understanding and marking your intellectual property. 

Copyright

Copyright protects completed creative works. 

For example, this could be a workout guide or exercise ebook. 

Copyright does not have to be registered in New Zealand because it automatically applies to creative works of this type when you create them. However, you can still mark your copyright content with the © symbol. This will ensure that others know that: 

  • it is original work; and 
  • they must ask permission if they would like to use it.

Copyright grants you exclusive rights to your work. This means that you are the only one who can use and profit from it unless you give others permission. It also means that you will be able to take action if your permission is surpassed. 

Key Takeaways 

Personal trainers need to protect both their brand and their work. You can protect your brand by identifying and enforcing the different aspects of your brand. This may mean having a trade mark and a registered company name. You can protect your work by marking it with the appropriate symbols. This will help avoid intellectual property theft and conflict. If you need assistance with protecting your IP as a personal trainer, contact LegalVision’s IP lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the labels for trade marks?

Registered trade marks can be labelled with a ® symbol. Unregistered trade marks can be labelled with a ™ symbol.

How long do trade mark registrations last?

Trade mark registrations last 10 years before you will need to renew them with IPONZ.

Is copyright still legally enforceable even though it is not registered?

Yes, copyright is still legally enforceable. For added protection, you should consider getting a trade mark for key elements of your brand. 

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.

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