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6 Best Trade Mark Practices for E-Commerce Businesses

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Protecting your brand is essential, especially where you operate in a digital marketplace. One critical aspect of protecting your e-commerce business’ brand identity is the use of trade marks. This article will take you through six best trade mark practices for your New Zealand e-commerce business. 

1. Understand the Importance of Trade Marks 

It is first important to understand what trade marks are and why they are important for your business. Trade marks are distinctive signs or symbols that identify your goods or services from other businesses. In the e-commerce space, where consumers cannot assess the quality of your goods in person, trade marks play an important role in establishing trust amongst your consumers.

Additionally, trade marks are essential for e-commerce businesses due to the competitive online marketplace. Trade marks, therefore, help set your brand apart from others. They also build customer loyalty by serving as a symbol of quality and a positive consumer experience. 

2. Conduct Comprehensive Trade Mark Searches

A trade mark search is a critical step before registering your trade marks. This process requires you to check the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office’s (IPONZ) database to see whether someone else has already registered your preferred trade mark. This step helps avoid potential conflicts and legal issues at a later date.

In addition to an initial search conducted yourself, it is recommended that you also have a professional conduct a trade mark search. This involves having someone experienced with trade mark searches, such as a trade mark lawyer, to complete a more comprehensive search. A trade mark professional will be able to provide a more accurate assessment of the availability of your chosen trade mark and identify any potential risks to registration.

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3. Register Your Trade Marks As Soon as Possible

You should aim to register your trade marks with the IPONZ as soon as you can. This is because it can take several months for an application to be registered after filing. 

Registering your trade mark early should be balanced with lodging a thorough application. You should not rush the application process but instead should ensure that the application is detailed and covers your trade mark comprehensively. 

Working with a trade mark lawyer can be beneficial for ensuring that your application meets all the legal requirements. 

4. Maintain and Enforce Your Trade Mark Rights

Trade mark protection is an ongoing process that does not end at the date your application is registered. Instead, you must regularly check the market to ensure that no one else is using a similar or identical mark. This can be extremely difficult in the context of an e-commerce platform, where hundreds of other businesses sell similar products to the same consumer base. As such, consider working with a trade mark monitoring business that can help do this for you.

If you discover unauthorised use of your trade mark, you must take appropriate action as quickly as possible. This may involve sending cease and desist letters or commencing legal proceedings. If the unauthorised use occurred on an e-commerce platform, the hosting website may have an opportunity to lodge a trade mark-related complaint.

5. Think Globally 

E-commerce businesses make it much easier for you to share your goods or services internationally. However, this does mean that you must consider international trade mark registration

Registering trade marks in the markets where you operate or plan to expand protects your brand on a broader scale. International mechanisms such as the Madrid Protocol have simplified the process of obtaining trade mark protection in multiple countries via a single application.

6. Use Your Trade Marks for Marketing 

A registered trade mark can be a powerful marketing tool for e-commerce businesses. This is because a trade mark acts as a badge of quality, instilling confidence in consumers. You should incorporate your trade mark into your marketing materials to help reinforce your brand identity.

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Trade Mark Essentials in New Zealand

Our free Trade Mark Essentials in New Zealand guide explains how to register and defend your trade mark registration.

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Key Takeaways

In the e-commerce space where consumers cannot assess the quality of your goods in person, trade marks play an essential role in establishing trust amongst your consumers. As such, you must register your trade marks to ensure your e-commerce business is adequately protected. Some of the best trade mark related practices for e-commerce businesses include: 

  • understanding the importance of trade marks;
  • conducting comprehensive trade mark searches;
  • registering your trade marks as soon as possible;
  • maintaining and enforcing your trade mark rights;
  • thinking globally; and
  • using your trade marks for marketing purposes. 

If you need assistance understanding how your New Zealand e-commerce business can get the most out of its trade marks, our experienced trade mark lawyers can assist as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. Call us today on 0800 005 570 or visit our membership page.

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