Trade marks

Guide to Australian, Victorian, British and American trade marks held by the Library.

Subject librarian

Standards, codes, intellectual property

Trade marks

Tru Blue

Oxford & Sons' True Blue


Artificial silk yarns
Kay Brothers Manchester
24 Oct 1928, p 1704

Oils, greases and lubricants
Carless, Capel and Leonard
Hope Chemical Works, London
31 Oct 1928, p 1745


This guide defines the concept of a trade mark and outlines the trade mark collections held by the State Library of Victoria. This includes relevant indexes and registers for searching, identifying and locating trade marks both in print and online.

Browse the following pages to locate resources about local and overseas trade marks.

What is a registered trade mark?

Old Tom,  H96.160/2210IP Australia defines a trade mark as a right that is granted for a letter, number, word, phrase, sound, smell, shape, logo, picture, and/or aspect of packaging, or any combination of these.

It is used to distinguish the goods and services of one trader from those of another.

It is legally enforceable and gives exclusive rights to commercially use, licence or sell the goods and services that it is registered under.

Examples of "goods" include vehicles, musical instruments, building materials, furniture, textiles, food and drinks.

Examples of "services" include advertising, telecommunications, transport, education, medical services and legal services.

Trade marks are made up of one or two constituent parts - words and images. For example, Qantas airline is represented by the word Qantas, and the image of a kangaroo. Some trade marks may be represented by either a word or words, or an image or images.

A trade mark registered in Australia is identified by the ® symbol. Unregistered or pending trade marks may use the TM symbol.

In Australia, trade mark registration lasts 10 years, and can be renewed for successive periods of 10 years.

The value of trade marks

Trade marks add value to enterprises or organisations. They aid in distinguishing the goods or services of one organisation from another; and enable the marketing of products and services as being of a certain and consistent quality. For example, think of major Internet, educational, transport, entertainment and sporting brands.

Trade marks generate income, and can have significant commercial value, not only for existing businesses, but also when establishing new businesses.

Historic trade marks are an important primary source for researchers, including business and company historians, intellectual property professionals and researchers, collectors and genealogists.

Keeping up to date with trade mark information

Current information relating to trade marks, and other forms of intellectual property (patents, designs, copyright) is available online.

The database, SNIPER (Searchable Networked Intellectual Property Electronic Resource), includes articles, conference papers, book chapters and online documents. SNIPER is indexed on the Informit database, available in the Library, and accessible from home for State Library registered Victorian residents.

The difference between trade marks, patents and designs

Trade marks are just one type of intellectual property (the property of your mind or intellect) legally recognised in Australia.  The others are patents, designs, copyright, electronic circuit layouts rights, plant breeder's rights, and confidential information / trade secrets. For detailed descriptions of each see IP Australia.

"Intellectual property rights allow the creators – or owners of patents, trademarks or copyrighted works – to benefit from their own work or investment in a creation. These rights are outlined in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provides for the right to benefit from the protection of moral and material interests resulting from authorship of any scientific, literary or artistic work" (World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)).

The key difference between trade marks, patents and designs can be explained by the following example of a ball point pen.

The trade mark will identify and protect the brand of the pen, for example Bic Pro.

The patent will describe how the pen's ball point operates to distribute ink to paper.

The design will describe the shape and appearance of the pen.

National emblems

National emblems, including official heraldry and flags, and those of intergovernmental organisations, are prohibited from being registered as trade marks under 'Article 6ter' of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.

The Article 6ter Express database is a searchable database of these emblems.

'Raven' trade mark


Raven tobacco box, H96.160/2360