Guide to trade mark use

Your trade mark rights can be eroded, and eventually lost, if you are not careful with how you use your trade mark.

For instance, kerosene, linoleum, kiwifruit and corn flakes all originated as trade marks but became descriptive and now everybody is free to use them.

Below is a brief guide to help you use your trade mark properly.

Identify your brand as a trade mark
  • Quotation marks: e.g. “NIKE”
  • Capital letters: e.g. HOLDEN
  • Letters of a different colour, larger size or different style from those of the surrounding words: e.g. Coca-Cola
  • The appropriate symbols, such as:
    • JANDALS® footwear
    • VASELINE® petroleum jelly
    • XEROX™ photocopiers
  • An asterisk referring to a footnote stating that the word is a trade mark/registered trade mark
  • The word “brand” to reduce the possibility that the trade mark will be thought of as the generic name for the product, such as: BAND-AID® brand adhesive bandages.
  • Do not use your mark to describe the product or service, or as a generic term
  • Examples of misuse of current registered trade marks include:
    • A great range of jandals on sale now
    • Have a good time at the Fieldays
    • Enjoy a cold radler this summer.
Maintain the distinctiveness of your mark by never using it descriptively

Protect your car with ARMOUR ALL® protectant
The doctor prescribed PANADOL® tablets
STYROFOAM® plastic foam can be readily installed.


Armour all your car
The doctor prescribed panadols
Styrofoam can be readily installed.

Other tips

Before the trade mark is registered use the ™ symbol. This tells the world you are claiming trade mark rights in your mark and should be used if you export products to countries you may not have registered rights in.

You can only use the symbol ® if your mark is registered in that country.

Do not use the symbol ® on goods that may be exported to countries in which you do not have registered rights or for other variations of your mark.


Be vigilant for, and advise us of any unauthorised use of your mark by others as this could lead to your mark becoming non-distinctive and vulnerable to attack. We can readily prevent unauthorised use.

If you allow others to use your mark, you must carefully control how they may use the mark. We can prepare a licence for you.

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