Disruption in traditional business processes and models is becoming more and more common. This trend is universal and applies to all industries and affects all business owners and employees. In the logistics and transport industry, disruption presents several challenges, making small and medium players especially vulnerable. Examples of identified challenges are:
- Increasing presence of large multinational logistics and transport companies that can provide end-to-end services, as well as land, water and sea carriage options, makes it difficult for smaller players to compete;
- Changes in how goods are delivered from suppliers directly to consumers rather than to retail outlets, due to the increasing use of online shopping leads to shifts in the customary movement of goods;
- Increasing effect of globalisation means that unexpected events in other countries have significant consequences to local businesses which may increase costs and lessen profit margins; and
- Keeping up to date with the ever-changing technology and regulations which can be too costly for small to medium players.
To survive these challenges, smaller players must adapt and better understand the different ways of distinguishing their businesses. Notably, companies should increase their awareness of monetising and exploiting their Intellectual Property (IP) to ensure business continuity and growth. We set out three reasons why small to medium players in the logistics and transport industry should start paying attention and possibly investing more in their intellectual property.
1. Invest in Building Your Brand
Intellectual property, such as trade marks and copyright assists in creating, establishing and protecting a business’ brand and reputation. A strong and reliable brand will help smaller players in the industry differentiate their business from the bigger multinational players. Companies can achieve this by linking a company’s branding with filling a niche gap in the marketplace.
For example, an innovative small business owner has found a gap in the market and decided to provide services to time-poor, busy professionals. The owner of the business offers to collect your parcels and packages from the post office or the courier warehouse and deliver it to the recipient’s door at a preferred time, which may be after business hours. The business owner must market its services by investing in building its brand for consumers to immediately recognise and associate with the specific services it’s providing.
2. Commercially Exploiting Your Intellectual Property
You may not know that your intellectual property is part of the reason your business currently thrives and survives. Intellectual property is a term used to describe different kinds of intangible assets including registrable assets such as patents, trade marks, designs, and domain names, and other information you may have that gives your business a competitive edge. These include business know-how, business processes, customer and supplier contacts, and trade secrets. You may sometimes take advantage of these things but it is critical that you remember to protect them.
You can protect your intellectual property through registration, where possible. For registrable intellectual property, you can start by including intellectual property provisions in your contract. This will put the people you have business relationships with on notice of your ownership and how they should treat your intellectual property. Lastly, intellectual property, non-disclosure and non-compete provisions in your employment contracts may deter employees or previous employees from divulging information about your business to competitors.
3. Protecting Your Reputation
According to Warren Buffet, “it takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it”. Your branding allows your customers and clients to know who you are and what you do. Your reputation is how the public perceives you, including potential customers and clients. It is one of your most valuable assets and once stained, it will be tough to repair.
In the logistics and transport industry, reputation regarding your business’ ability to deliver goods on time, in good condition and with transparency will be important in satisfying clients and acquire new ones. Reputation may also include how you conduct your business. In the past couple of years, there has been an increasing trend for clients and consumers to frequent businesses that commit to reducing their carbon footprint or give back to the community in their own way.
So how can you protect your reputation? One way is to obtain a trade mark registration and enforce your trade mark rights against copycat businesses that may be damaging your reputation. Having registered trade marks also makes it easier to prove ownership when you need to request social media pages to take down infringing pages or pages with infringing content. This also applies when you need to show your proprietorship of your domain name if you happen to get involved in a dispute.
There is no doubt many other legal issues you should consider when running your logistics and transport business. If you are certain that your business adequately complies with government regulations and industry standards and all your business relationships are properly set out in written agreements, then it is time to think about your intellectual property and how you can use it to your advantage. If you have any questions, get in touch with our IP lawyers on 1300 544 755.