Getting a Headstart to Trade Mark Registration in Australia

David Clode on Unsplash

Have you completed a trade mark search but you are unsure how the Australian Trade Marks Office will actually examine a new trade mark application? Want some certainty from the precise objection?

IP Australia provides a service called TM Headstart. This is a confidential preliminary assessment service with a fast turnaround that provides an indication of possible obstacles to registration.

Payment of the Part 1 fee is required upfront for TM Headstart. Then assessment is provided within 5 working days. Once the assessment is received, the payment of the Part 2 fee is required within 5 working days. The application is given a filing date and published once the Part 2 fee is paid.

Advantages and When to use TM Headstart

Using the Headstart service is particularly helpful where it is difficult to say for sure whether a trade mark application will progress smoothly to registration.

IP Australia examines trade mark application on both absolute and relative grounds. Therefore, in some cases where it is unclear how the application might progress, a Headstart assessment can be incredibly useful.

TM Headstart is useful particularly in the following scenarios:

  • If the proposed trade mark is somewhat descriptive of goods/services claimed
  • If the proposed trade mark is low indistinctive character, such as a slogan
  • If an earlier mark has been identified which is not an obvious red flag, but where there may be a potential barrier to registration (for instance where there might be a common word or some kind of overlap in the respective marks and overzealous examiners)

The Headstart assessment is completed within 5 working days. It helpfully indicates whether any earlier marks would be raised as citations against your application. If there are any issues raised in the assessment,there is an opportunity to make amendments to the application. Any amendments as well as payment of the Part 2 fee must be completed within 5 working days of receiving the assessment report.

If the assessment raises issues which look to be insurmountable, or just too much of an uphill battle for the client, the TMHeadstart application will simply lapse if the Part 2 payment is not paid. This is not published and there is no record of the TM Headstart application on the register.


When using TM Headstart you cannot select your own terms for the specification of goods and services. The terms must be selected from the approved Picklist (refer:

TM Headstart can only be used for traditional word marks and figurative marks. It cannot be used for series marks or non-traditional trademarks (sounds, colours, motion marks etc) or for defensive, collection and certification marks.

Official Fees 

For more information on TM Headstart please contact Clare Liang

Further reading
Registration of ownership. Not ownership by Registration
Read more
Kitted out Patents: Limits on the Patentability of "Kits" in Australia
Read more