What’s In a Name? Intellectual Property Considerations for your Brand

Thanks to Covid-19, the way you operate your business has changed. Your duties and obligations to your business and your employees have increased. You have a lot to think about and intellectual property (IP) may be on the bottom of the list… but it shouldn't be. It is an incredibly important asset and can contribute significantly to the value of your business.

Part 1: Your Trade Mark/Brand. What's in a Name?

There are some incredibly valuable and successful local brands in our South African equestrian community. Long standing brands like ARDMORE, ARCO 360, CALLAHO, EQUIFOX and KUDA as well as more recently launched brands like KURDEN by Equestrian House.

Doing your homework before going to market is vital to your brand's success. Is your brand distinctive? Will it set you apart from your competitors? As tempting as it may be, don't choose a brand which is descriptive of the goods or services you are offering. Part of the reason why the APPLE brand has been a success is that Steve Jobs never set out to sell apples.

Is the brand you have chosen available for use? Make sure you don't find yourself in a position where you spend a fortune on the launch of your product, only to find that you have to re-brand because you are infringing someone else's trade mark rights. Re-branding is an expensive exercise involving product recall, destruction of packaging and withdrawal of marketing material. This is why the first critical step, before deciding on a new brand, is a trade mark search.

Once you have established that the brand is available for use, you need to apply for registration of the brand. If you choose a great brand, you can rest assured that someone will copy it or come up with a brand which is similar enough to try and create confusion in the market to draw your clients away from you. If you take my advice and register your trade mark, your rights to the brand can be enforced against opportunistic third parties.

A registered trade mark does not only protect you from infringement by competitors but offers an opportunity to generate additional revenue by licensing the trade mark to third parties for a royalty fee. If you registered your trade mark, once it gains value, you can also raise capital for your business by putting it up as security.

Join us for part 2 next month regarding the protection available in respect of promotional and/or marketing materials.

Content Credit: Bernadette Versfeld (Webber Wentzel)

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