Articles > Startups

How do I protect my franchise’s brand?

November 13, 2020   Jennifer AndradePhilip Evangelou

A franchise’s brand is vital to attract customers and separate them from the rest. Therefore, it is important to understand how to protect that brand and essentially, protect its intellectual property rights. A franchise’s brand relies on their intellectual property rights and these include rights over the franchise’s logo, business name, design, and other distinguishing features of the franchise. Research and maintenance of the distinctiveness of the brand is crucial to protect it from potential risks posed by imitations or competing brands. 


As with most things research is important, particularly when a franchisee is entering into a franchise agreement. Research should be undertaken by a franchisee to determine what intellectual property the franchisor owns and has registered. The Australian Trade Mark Online Search allows people to check their catalogue of all registered trademarks in Australia to ensure that the one they created is unique and not similar to a pre-existing one. 

Registering Intellectual Property

Registering the brand’s intellectual property such as designs, patents or trademarks means that the franchise has ownership over these properties. This is required for some forms of intellectual property such as trademarks. This process of registration is done through Intellectual Property Australia and is especially important for franchisors before they offer the franchise to a franchisee. This is because it is through registration that the franchisor acquires exclusive rights over the property. It also facilitates licensing the intellectual property to any franchisees and protects the franchisor from the brand being inappropriately used by the franchisee, discrediting the franchise. 

Solidify Brand Guidelines

Once a brand has been successfully registered, a franchise should ensure that anyone working with the brand understands its guidelines. This means educating all businesses, partners, and employees in the franchise’s system on how to use the brand’s trademark, design, and other intellectual property. This ensures that they do not risk compromising the franchisor’s rights in the brand and allows for consistency in the brand’s marketing, strengthening its presence in the market. 

Track Competitors

Additionally, keeping track of the brand and any competitors is important to protect a franchise. By checking the Trade Marks Office search engine, conducting Google searches and setting Google alerts, a franchise can monitor any activity by competitors or brands similar to theirs. 

This diligence also extends to checking and protecting a franchise from international businesses. This is important as the larger foreign market allows for imitation brands to burgeon without notice. There are several systems of registration and intellectual property regimes, however, the process of registering and maintaining a brand’s intellectual property has been made easier with international treaties. A franchisor looking to extend their franchise to other countries must ensure that their brand is protected and registered in their relevant region. 

Seek Advice

As it is the brand that distinguishes a franchise, its success and popularity will depend on the protection of the intellectual property attached to it. Any franchise can successfully protect their brand by conducting thorough research, properly registering their intellectual property, and keeping track of any other brands that may compromise their interests. 

If you need assistance protecting your franchise’s brand get in touch with us via the contact form or by calling 1300 337 997. 

About Jennifer Andrade

Jennifer AndradeJennifer is a legal content writer with OpenLegal, with a particular interest in employment, contract and copyright law.

About Philip Evangelou

phillipPhil is a director at OpenLegal. He has over 16 years experience working in private practice and in-house counsel in Sydney and London, giving him expertise in employment law, IP, finance, leases, dispute resolution, insurance and contracts.