Unfortunately, having the website domain name and business name registered doesn’t legally stop anyone from using your business name, or logo, whether accidentally or deliberately. Although highly unethical to use someone else’s logo, it happens and unless you have trademarked your logo and business name, there’s little you can do to protect your name.
Essentially, a trademark gives you protection against anyone using your logo and/or business name, or from using a logo that looks similar to yours. Your logo is how your customers recognise you, so having a similar one out there can – and does – cause confusion for the public, and especially the clientele you have worked hard to build up.
A registered trademark basically tells the world “this logo is mine”; you are officially and publicly declaring ownership of your businesses look.
Trademarks can be, and usually are registered in different categories which is why you occasionally see, for example, a restaurant with the same name as clothing store, or bakery with a similar name to a car mechanic. Most simply, you register your trademark in the industry related category under which your business falls.
You can apply for other categories, but may come across appeal if another trademark is registered in that category. You may also want to think carefully about whether it is financially viable to stake your claim across vaguely relevant, or irrelevant categories – for example, registering in the automotive category if you run an online clothing store.
Alternatively, think about whether you will expand into other areas in the near future and protect yourself if viable.
Once registered, your trademark is protected for ten years, meaning anyone using your logo, or similar logo for a similar business can be asked to desist, and legal action may be taken should your name be defamed or harmed in any way.