Strong branding is imperative for any business. It is what makes the customers recognise you and choose your business over that of competitors. However, there are many common misconceptions of what is included as part of branding and how to protect it.
The general concept of branding encompasses specific name, logo, slogan, design and, in some cases, the colour scheme that makes customers recognise a product or a service provided by a particular business. It is what makes you known in the marketplace.
Firstly, before committing to using a particular name, word(s) or phrase as part of your brand, you must search the online registers to ensure that no business name, company name or trade marks which are similar to it are currently registered. A little time spent doing due diligence and research can prevent great disappointment, inconvenience and financial loss.
Most people do not quite understand the difference between trade marks, business names and company names and therefore do not realise when their brand is not fully protected.
Registering a company name or a business name does not give ownership rights in that name. The only way to protect a name, a logo or a slogan is to register a trade mark. The registered trade mark owner then has the exclusive rights to use the trade mark, authorise other persons to use the trade mark and the ability to commence proceedings and obtain relief for any trade mark infringement.
Trade marks form part of your brand’s intellectual property. There are other interests which form part of your brand’s intellectual property, including all registered and unregistered rights, such as:
- business name(s)
- company name(s)
- design of the product or packaging
- script in a commercial or advertising
- content of your website
- trade secrets
- art and literature works
If you are unsure about any of your intellectual property, what constitutes it and how to protect it, speak to a lawyer to ensure all your hard work invested in building a brand is properly protected.