Brands are indispensable to commerce.
As a business owner, brand is your identity, reputation, personality, and experience. Year on year, you want to anchor all the positive associations people have about your business in your brand.
A lot of business will have a great deal of their goodwill tied up in their brand and reputation. Alarmingly, many business owners give very little attention to safeguarding the identity of that brand and reputation until something goes wrong.
Branding a new business can be an agonising proposition. A lot of time can go into just selecting a name, the finer details put in the 'too hard basket'.
You have to select something that will resonate with your ideal audience, allow you to connect with the market, and will suit your immediate and future needs, as well as work in overseas markets.
There are three important and inter-connected considerations when adopting a new brand: identity, ownership and registrability.
Illustrated : the three key requirements for whether or not a brand can be registered as a trademark
At the outset it pays to get a basic appreciation of what’s involved in the trademark registration process, as well as working through the commercial outcomes you're seeking, what countries you wish to cover in order of priority, and research and budget projected expenses and timing.
You will need assistance and advice to complete the process, so it is worthwhile reaching out early to get some advice as to you best first steps. Early advice will inform your own thinking.
A trademark application involves selecting your trademark. For a graphical device or logo, this means a quality electronic file. Also, you need to select the goods and services for which you are selecting coverage. Coverage is by market segments according to a standardised classification system. Your trademark professional can assist you in this regard.
A quick search is prudent (if not essential) as it will inform you whether or not a ‘knockout’ registration will defeat your own contemplated application. You will also be alerted you to any other third party registrations that might have otherwise forced you to rebrand if you had found out about them later.
This is the time to formalise a strategy and start the trademark registration process. The technology to be patented should typically be nearing an advanced level of 'technology readiness' but ahead of commercial release. This ensures that only minor details (of minimal or no consequence) are likely to change prior to launch.
Trademark registration is not essential for commercial success, but can help insulate against the loss of rights in your brand from challengers whop have accused superior rights. Patent protection when available can however provide differentiation and defendable advantage, which can be critical in some industries and commercial contexts.
Registration depends upon a trademark being not the same or similar to an existing registration, and sought for the same or similar products or services. Pre-filing searching can help discover the answer, as well as highlight potential infringement risks which could force you through a re-brand.
Trademark registration confers legal rights to exclude others from using the registered trademark in connection with the specified products and services. These rights extends to use of deceptively similar trademarks, and for closely related products and services beyond your registration.
No, it's not mandatory to use the ® symbol in connection with your registered trademark but it is recommended. This signals to the market and competitors that the trademark is proprietary to the owner. Before registration, there can be commercial and legal benefits to marking unregistered trademarks with the ™ symbol.
Expenses associated with trademarking are predictable, and vary only if unforeseen difficulties or disputes arise. Overseas coverage, and the extent of coverage required will increase costs. Once granted, renewal fees apply at ten year intervals.
Trademark registration rights are granted on a country-by-country basis, though there is an international framework available to reduce administrative and cost overhead quite significantly.
You can at times expedite a decision for conditional approval for a trademark. Grant of registration resulting in enforceable rights takes over six months at the very least. This time frame is to allow time to resolve any potential conflicting rights connected to earlier applications.
Some countries or states/provinces offer consumer protection laws and regulations that can protect against the misleading or deceptive conduct of other traders. As well as some protection for proven reputation or goodwill. Using such mechanisms tends to be far more uncertain and expensive than enforcement of registered trademark rights.
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