Tag Archives: Intellectual Property Protection

Protecting Name

Why You Need to Protect a Name and Other Intangible Assets Immediately

Protecting NameThe 7 Costly Mistakes People Make When Turning their Big Idea into a Business, or when Branding or Rebranding Anything

Since a brand gives your idea or product identity, not registering it as a trademark leaves you wide open.

Your market share could be stolen by a competitor if they use the same name and register it themselves because you haven’t bothered to do so.

Can you imagine what it would mean to your business if somebody else registered their business using your name or one very similar to yours, even though you used the name first?

It would cost a lot of money to argue it out with them. Effectively, you risk losing ownership of your own name!

If you weigh the very affordable cost of registering your brand versus the cost and trouble of legal suits over an unregistered name, you will understand why it is wise to take no chances.

The same way you secure your website or Shopify site with a password or your physical business with doors and security right from the start so you should secure your intangible assets, such as your business name.

If you take the security of your brand and IP with the same seriousness that you take your website security and physical business’ security, you will be on the right track. It is a big risk not to register your brand name as a trademark immediately you decide on a name.

Many entrepreneurs have watched their businesses go up in smoke – not from the theft of their products but from the theft of their idea, their brand – which is the very essence of their business. All because they did not take any measures to get a good name and secure it right from the beginning.

Do bear in mind that registration alone does not give you the protection you need though. You first need to establish that the name is available for you to adopt. That means getting a trademark lawyer’s advice on it as mentioned in Mistake #5. The UK and EU trademark offices will not stop someone else registering exactly the same name as an existing trademark. In the USA, the USPTO would stop a duplicate registration though.

So, assuming you are in the UK or EU, or some other country that allows duplicates registrations, then remember you get no protection simply by registering the name. This is clear from the case of Microsoft’s SKYDRIVE!

Not protecting the brand and visual identity through trademark registration is a mistake

Of course, trademarks are not the only type of IP to worry about. Remember, you don’t get any protection for your idea or invention if you disclose it before registering a patent, and you have a limited window of opportunity to secure design registration for an innovative design concept. And when it comes to trademarks, there’s a lot more to them than simply registering a mark.

Lack of protection risks your distinctive brand elements becoming generic. Coca Cola would never have secured a monopoly over its iconic bottle shape if it had not protected its designs at the outset when the design was first created.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, when you have an idea take the right steps to turn it into valuable intellectual property. IP assets don’t automatically just exist. You need to identify, capture and secure the IP in your idea. That involves making the right choices, such as of the name you give it. Otherwise, you could fail to create value from your idea.

The lesson is simple – if you’re an inventor, or entrepreneur with an idea, IP is crucial to you as is the brand you create. If you have an idea to better serve your clients, an idea to make your difference in the world, then give it the best chance of success. Take account of IP as it will be important to your plans.

Find out more how BrandTuned helps you turn that idea into commercial form or to fine tune your existing brand and business.

International Trade Marks

international trade markTrade marks are your “badge of origin”, and serve to identify your products and services.  Without trade marks, it would be impossible to find the products and services we like and to avoid those we don’t. So, trade marks are tools enabling consumers to identify products and services they have enjoyed and want to buy again.

Trademarks protect the reputation and goodwill of a brand.

Any sign unique to your business may be registered as a trademark. The most commonly registered marks are words, logos, and slogans.

 

International Trade Mark Protection

There is no such thing as an international trademark. Trademarks are territorial, meaning you need to register in each country in which you intend to trade.

Trademarks give you rights in the country or territory where you register. For companies trading in UK or Europe, the first step will be to apply for a UK or EU trademark. Those businesses that purely trade in this country will just want to register a UK trademark. For example if you run a restaurant and have no intention of franchising your business in other countries, the UK is the only country that is relevant to you.

A UK trade mark registration covers the UK only. A European trade mark registration covers all 27 European Union countries in a single application, and the UK too while the UK remains in the EU.

Your first application to register your mark in the UK or EU or other territory, is treated as if you had filed it internationally because it gives you worldwide protection for six months provided you go on to apply to register in your desired countries within that timescale. So you get priority protection during those 6 months.

So, if you later decide to extend the scope of your trademark to other countries, it is possible to use your base UK or EU trademark as the first step towards registering in other countries.  You extend that application or registration to other countries, by designating your desired countries in a Madrid Protocol application if your desired countries are party to the Madrid Protocol. If the country of your choice is not party to the Madrid Protocol then it’s still possible to extend your UK application to that country, by making a direct application in those countries. A country that is not party to the Madrid system is South Africa.

 

The Madrid Protocol facilitates registration across multiple jurisdictions for those countries that have signed up to it. This offers ease of administration, cost savings, and flexibility. You file a single application and pay fees based on the countries in which you intend to secure protection. In one of the next blogs, I will explain which countries are a party to the system and will show you how to calculate the fees.

If you want a brand that is protected worldwide, the question is whether the name is available to register in your target markets in countries where you intend to do business.  That generally means in the country in which you are based and other countries where you will promote your goods or services.

 

There are two possible approaches to take when it comes to searching. Either do some searches before applying to register your mark in a particular territory, or simply take your chances and apply to register your mark in a territory and see whether the application encounters any problems. If a local trade mark blocks your registration then you might need to trade under a different brand in that country.

It is important to be strategic about extending your protection to other classes and other countries thereafter.

 

if you don’t protect your mark in countries in which you trade, you could find yourself in a situation similar to what happened in Plenty of Fish/Plenty More Fish.

Plenty of Fish, a well-established online dating site objected to PlentyMoreFish setting up a rival online dating site in the UK under a similar name.  They opposed PlentyMoreFish’s UK trademark application, arguing that PlentyMoreFish was riding off its reputation by setting up the rival dating site. They lost because they couldn’t show that they had UK customers and as they hadn’t protected their brand with an EU trademark they were powerless to stop PlentyMoreFish.

That situation would never happen inside a single country like the UK. There are passing off laws and other remedies which would enable business in Plenty of Fish’s situation to stop PlentyMoreFIsh by injunction or other steps. However, online it’s possible for this sort of scenario to arise unless you are vigilant about protecting your mark in countries in which you trade.

Best to cover off your home market and the important jurisdictions in which you trade.