We are often asked, “Do we really need to protect our name and visual identity with a registered trademark?” I always respond with, “That depends on how angry and upset you’ll be if someone else starts using your business name, symbols and iconography.”
Trademarks are brand identifiers. According to the International Trademark Association, “A trademark may be any word, name, slogan, symbol, device, package design or combination of these that serves to identify and distinguish a product from others in the marketplace.” In today’s world, you can trademark sounds, colors, smells, or even holograms. If someone else attempts to distribute products or services using something “confusingly similar” to your trademark, you have the legal right to protect yourself and stop them.
A well-protected and strong brand is an essential part of business operations, and the use of registered trademarks is fundamental to the process of managing a successful business.
Registration of a brand as a trademark creates property and, like all property, trademarks need to be built on strong foundations and must be looked after during their lifetime to ensure they continue to deliver value to your business.
The risk and consequences of not registering your brand properties is great. If you don’t and someone else registers a similar name then you may be forced to:
• Withdraw all your products or services
• Redesign all your packaging
• Draw new PR/promotion/awareness campaigns
• Pay compensation
• Buy a license from the existing owners
• Be “locked out” of a foreign market place
If you’re not willing to protect your brand, there isn’t much point of trying to build one.