Your brand is the part of your business that communicates to the outside world who you are, the quality of your goods and services, and your company’s image. Therefore, it is an important and valuable asset. One way of protecting your brand is through registering it as a trademark.
The rise of brands converging across various industries has meant that trademark lawyers have to monitor changes in the law more than ever.
At Sheridans, our trademark specialists advise a number of individuals, brands and agencies in innovative projects across all leisure, media, and entertainment.
We provide a one-stop-shop from brand genesis through to brand development, exploitation and protection and provide cost-effective advice on trademarks, filing strategy and brand development.
Our clients receive relevant, focused advice for reaching their business goals.
In this article, we provide some “top tips” for the use of trademarks to protect your business.
1. Why register?
Trademarks are a valuable asset for your company. Registered trademark protection gives the registered proprietor the exclusive right to use the brand.
Furthermore, trademark registration is evidence that the registered proprietor is the owner of the brand. Once registered, trademarks last for an initial period of 10 years (for the UK at least).
2. Protecting your brand identity
It is possible to register most names, slogans and logos as trademarks. The more distinctive the mark, the more likely it is to be registrable and also the stronger the trademark protection you will have once it is registered.
Therefore, it is important to identify the key aspect of your brand identity and seek to protect it.
3. Picking your goods and services of interest
A trademark is registered in respect of goods and services divided into groups called classes. A carefully and strategically drafted specification will be important for both brand protection and brand exploitation.
4. Select your key territories
Trademarks are territorial in nature. Therefore, you should apply to register your marks in your key territories of interest. This may be where you are currently operating, or where you have an interest in expanding in the future. Think about the territories where you manufacture and the territories where you exploit. If you have a number of territories of interest, we can advise on a trademark filing strategy that will meet your brand protection needs while being sensitive to your budget.
5. Make your brand work for you
Once your trademark portfolio is in place you can use these assets to work for you. You can licence your mark, or enter into franchise deals with, third parties in return for a royalty/receive share. You should note that in some territories, trademark registrations are required before you can licence, commercially exploit or import goods into that market.
6. Trademark as an asset
As well as licensing, a trademark can be bought and sold. A registered trademark is an identifiable asset which attracts value. Therefore make sure your trademark and its value are maintained.
7. Recognising trademarks as value for money
Whilst the application costs are upfront, given that the trademark protection covers 10 years, spread out over the 10 year period they are good value for money.
8. Preserving the value of your brand
Once registered it is important to monitor any third party use of an identical or similar brand. Any unauthorised use may infringe your trademark rights, which in turn affects the value of your company name and the business which the brand attracts. Therefore, you should identify a strategy which deals with infringers in terms of their risk to your brand.
9. Important Notice
Registering your company name with Companies House provides you with some (albeit weak) protection to protect your brand. However, this does not give your business the same protection or benefits as a registered trademark.
10. Other strategies
Consider protecting your brand through other means. This includes copyright and also registering domain names for your brand.
IPR or Intellectual Property Rights are important as your brand grows. These articles would help you in that aspect.