In today’s competitive global marketplace, protecting your business identity has become one of the most important steps you can take. As any marketing expert will tell you, it is oft one of the most overlooked parts of a brand marketing strategy. An internet-accessible world means that more information is freely available and in the public domain. It is surprisingly easy for a competitor or their interim marketing director to take advantage of your hard-earned reputation. If you’re creating a brand name and investing in that brand, protecting your business with a registered trademark is key. If you don’t, another business can create a logo similar to yours and benefit from your marketing.
But it’s not just stealing copyright that’s an issue. If you do not possess a trademark, infringement may occur innocently. Whilst you or your company has the natural right to copyright in law, legal action to prevent such an infringement known as “passing off”, can be expensive and time-consuming. Here’s how to avoid the most common pitfalls and how an interim CMO can help.
Choose a memorable brand name
Sounds obvious? It is important when selecting your trademark, that you choose something memorable. Not only can customers more easily recall your product or service, it differentiates you from your competitors and you are more likely to create advocates who recall your name and recommend you to others. You don’t need to have a marketing whisperer tell you that memorable works when you invest in marketing.
Don’t call it what it says on the tin
Naming your brand by describing the product or service is much harder to protect under trademark laws and even harder to enforce against third parties. This is because the UK Intellectual Property Office, and Intellectual Property Offices overseas, will not accept descriptive marks as this would provide the trademark owner with an unfair monopoly in a word that should be left free for other traders to use in connection with their business. ‘Invented’ words like LEGO and KODAK are the easiest to protect.
Do a trademark search
Don’t assume that because you ‘invented’ a name that no-one else has already thought of it. If they have, you are unlikely to be able to use it, even if you operate in a different sector. You may also innocently create a similar name to another business. You do not want to find yourself infringing someone else’s mark particularly if you have already gone ahead and invested in promotional activities. Imagine the scenario of launching your product under the trademark and then being threatened with court proceedings because your trademark infringes another party’s.
File, file, file
So you have created your memorable and distinctive trademark, checked it is free to use, the next step is to secure that right by filing a trademark application at the Intellectual Property Office in the country you propose to operate your business, or make your products or services available. Securing your trademark rights through registration is the strongest protection you can obtain. It puts you in a position to prevent a competitor or counterfeiter from stealing your custom and damaging your reputation through using your trademark, or a trademark similar to it. If you don’t have the time to do this, consider hiring a part time CMO or other marketing talent on demand.
Keep your costs down
The average cost of obtaining a trade mark registration in the U.K is £700. This registration runs for ten years and can be renewed for further ten year periods. But you can do it for less and you can do it for a lot more if you are not sure exactly how to proceed, so the advice of a fractional chief marketing officer is invaluable. At gigCMO our team of fractional CMO’s and CEO whisperers can help connect you to the right resources to protect one of the most important assets of your business. The true cost of trademark registration is in the failure to protect properly.