People are bombarded with advertisements every day, and brand names are seemingly ubiquitous. Well known brands are instantly recognisable, as are the goods, services values, and ideas with which they are associated. Yet despite this, some business owners are still unsure of why protecting their brand matters.
Building a business is hard work. Whether you are manufacturing or distributing a product, or delivering a service, you rely on your reputation to attract new customers and grow your business further. Having a strong brand provides a way for your customers to identify your business, and to refer your products or services to others. A strong brand is valuable.
Like any valuable asset, a brand should be protected. Failure to protect your brand may reduce its value, and could damage your business’ reputation. If a competitor were to start using your brand to advertise their own services they may be attracting customers that would otherwise have come to you, or worse, be delivering sub-standard products or services under your name. With most businesses having an online presence, damaging reviews can have a significant effect on your business.
Protecting a Brand
While there is some protection through the law of ‘passing off‘ and through consumer law, the most effective form of brand protection is through trade mark registration.
A trade mark is a sign used to distinguish one person’s goods or services from those of others. Registering a trade mark provides you with a legally enforceable right to stop other traders using your trade mark to advertise similar goods or services without authorisation.
If someone is using a registered trade mark without permission of the trade mark owner to sell similar goods or services, this is known as trade mark infringement. In most cases where this occurs, a cease and desist letter is sufficient to stop the infringement from continuing. Where this is unsuccessful, the trade mark can be enforced through the Courts.
As mentioned above, there is some protection above for unregistered trade marks, but this is often more difficult and costly to enforce. A registered trade mark can be seen as a way of minimising future enforcement cost. It also notifies others that you’re serious about protecting your brand, and increases the value of your business.
Even though you may have a registered trade mark it’s also important to be attentive to the activities of your competitors. If you suspect or witness your brand being infringed it is best to take action as soon as possible. The longer the infringing activity goes on the harder it will be to stop.
The best ways of keeping an eye on potential infringement is to conduct regular searches of business listings (including the business names register) and the trade marks database. Searching can be difficult, so speak with a qualified professional about protecting your brand.
LegalVision has a team of great IP lawyers who can assist you. Please call our office on 1300 544 755 and our Client Care team will happily provide you with an obligation-free consultation and a fixed-fee quote.