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Use it or lose it - trade marks in Australia

Australian trade mark laws may soon be amended so that it is easier to have trade marks that are not in use removed from the register.

Unlike some other jurisdictions, a trade mark owner in Australia is not required to file evidence of use in order to keep their registration in force. If, however, the trade mark is not actually used then the registration may become vulnerable to non-use applications. The relevant legislation provides that anyone may have a trade mark removed from the register in respect to particular good/services relating to the registration if they can show that the trade mark has not been used in good faith in Australia for such goods and/or services and either:

  1. the non-use has continued for an unbroken period of three years ending one month before the non-use application is filed; and/or

  2. when the trade mark was applied for, the applicant did not intend to use (or authorise somebody else to use) the trade mark in such manner, or assign the trade mark to a company for it to use the trade mark in such manner.
A non-use action under ground b. can be commenced any time after the trade mark is applied for. Proving that the applicant lacked the requisite intention to use the trade mark at the application date is, however, difficult to achieve.

Currently, a non-use action under ground a. can only be commenced five years after the trade mark is applied for. The Australian Government has, however, publicly announced that it supports reducing this minimum period from five years to three years. This is because the Government considers that the trade marks register is 'cluttered' with trade marks that are not in use which, potentially, reduces the scope for people genuinely wanting to use such marks.

More information about the Government’s position on this matter can be found here.


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