1. Protection â the IP subsisting in, or relating to, a new brand, product or service needs to be protected to ensure success. This may involve applying for trademark, copyright, design or even patent protection. We can help clients decide when this is necessary.
2. Choosing a brand and avoiding infringement â the brand that you choose should allow the clientâs customers to tell them apart from their competitors and can be anything from a traditional name or symbol, to a more unusual trademark such as a shape, color or sound. It is important that the trademark is distinctive of the goods and services that you provide and not deceptive or contrary to law or morality. It is also important that it does not conflict with a third partyâs trademark rights. We can help clients to find out whether their chosen brand is being used by another business or has, in fact, already been registered.
3. Brand promotions â it is only once the clientâs brand is protected that they can confidently invest the time and money required to successfully promote that brand, whether through traditional billboard, poster, TV or print advertising; or through point of sale, on-pack or online promotion. If, due to commercial pressures, the client needs to go to market before the registration process is complete it is advisable to notify third parties of their interest in the mark by using the âTMâ symbol in advertising materials. We can help clients decide when this is appropriate.
4. Exclusivity â once a brand is protected and successful, it becomes a valuable asset. It can be sold, mortgaged or licensed. We are all comfortable with land and personal possessions as property, but a marketing professional must also understand the proprietary value of a brand.
5. Domain names â in a world in which the vast majority of businesses have some sort of online presence, domain names can be as important as traditional trademarks.
Once a domain is registered, that is not necessarily the end of the story, businesses may find that third parties seek to register, or have already registered, domains that conflict with their IP rights. It is often a good idea to register common permutations of a given name (e.g. .com, .co., .net) as a preventative measure.
However, should a conflict arise, it may still be possible to challenge the third parties entitlement to and use of the domain in question, both through traditional channels, such as alleging passing off and/or registered trademark infringement; and also by applying to specialist domain organizations such as ICANN (for .com, .org, .net domains). We can advise our clients as to the best way to deal with such a conflict to enable them to protect their online brand.
Ultimately, it is crucial that marketers take steps to identify the IP that they own and ensure that property is adequately protected, whether by registration or otherwise.