Food businesses and brand protection

Have you got a food business but no brand protection? It is worthwhile to invest in your brand’s intellectual property early on by  trademarking your corporate logo, jingle, or registered business name. This ensures you are not building a brand that infringes on others’ registered trademarks – and gives you an enforceable right against any copycats in the future trying to steal from your success.

Trademark registration

Register your trademark! It is your identity both in the physical and virtual marketplace and on social media. If you do not register your trademark, protecting your brand  is possible; but will be difficult and expensive and without certainty of success.

  • The process of registration when in the right hands is relatively inexpensive and simple;
  • Once registered you are able to use the ® symbol alerting others of your trademark;
  • You can trademark any feature or combination of features that demonstrably distinguishes your food business – for example a letter, phrase, word, number, sound, shape, logo, picture or way of packaging provided it is original;
  • Registration adds value to your business as there is less risk around branding and constitutes an intangible asset of the business to which $ value can attribute.

Once registered, no one else will be able to use or register your trademark for their food business.

How does trademark registration work?

Trademarks can be applied for online, under the class/es relevant to your goods or services. For example: .the applicable classes of trademark for food and beverage goods is 29 – 34; or if you are providing food and drink services the  class most applicable is likely to be 43.

It’s important to ensure you undertake a  thorough search to determine that your trademark does not conflict with any others which are already registered. All applications must be accompanied by an application fee (which includes the registration fee). Legal assistance  can be very beneficial at the outset of your application as specialised IP knowledge and advice will lessen the chances of your application being knocked back in the examination phase, causing you to have to modify your application, re-apply and pay an additional  fee. If you would like help – speak to Jess.

During the examination process (which takes 3 to 4 months), the Trade Marks Examiner  reviews the application to ensure it is made in the right class, meets legislative requirements, contains the correct information and does not conflict with other registrations or prior applications. If everything goes smoothly you will be notified in writing, and your trademark will be advertised as open to opposition for a period of two months. Provided no oppositions are received,  after that it will be registered.

How trademark protects your brand:

If someone tries to rip off your food business, there are a variety of resolution methods to prevent further infringement. If a demand to cease the infringement does not work at the first instance, you may be able to obtain an injunction to stop the copycat from copying, or recover any damages caused to your business due to infringement.

  • Enforce your rights by seeking legal advice swiftly – it will protect your brand from any further potential infringement by demonstrating you are serious about protecting your legal rights;
  • Build your social media following so that if there is an infringement you can use your online presence to protect your brand and trademark.


If your food business is delivering innovative food packaging solutions or creating new ingredients, inventing processing methods and so on, you may be eligible for patent protection.

Trade secrets

Ensure your recipes, manufacturing processes and customer records are protected by having a confidentiality agreement in place and signed before disclosing trade secrets to business partners,  contractors or other third parties.

Can we help you get started? Book a free 15-min chat here to talk with one of our solicitors.

This is general advice only. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation. 

Published Apr 9, 2018

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