Six ways to protect your brand
Conduct regular portfolio reviews
Trade marks can be one of a company’s most valuable assets. From time-totime, it’s worth taking a step back and making sure that your portfolio is fit for
purpose. The most common pitfall I see is not keeping your trade mark portfolio relevant. Businesses evolve through product or geographical expansion, in that scenario you need to make sure you keep your portfolio up-to-date.
Prioritize your spend
Businesses should prioritize protecting their core brands. They need really robust protection for those brands and that’s where your legal spend should be focused. And make sure your approach to brand protection is centered in the ‘real world’, by reference to where the brands are used. For example, if the US is a big market, make sure you’re protected there.
Decide on your strategy
There are different strategies that businesses can deploy to protect their brands – one option is to go out and be that aggressive brand owner that disputes anything similar to their branding, including names and get-up. That means over time they have fewer and fewer people wanting to infringe them but it’s an expensive and time consuming approach.
Be prepared for Brexit
You need to review your existing IP agreements to make sure they cover the UK, post 31 December 2020. Also, if you’ve only got UK rights you may want to look at seeing if you can get corresponding EU registration. There is also an issue around .EU domain names. You need a place of business or an individual based in the EU to keep that domain name. From 1 January 2021, UK companies will not be able to own .EU domain names. You’ll have two months from then to transfer to an EU Group company or you’ll have to transfer away from that domain name.
Listen to Kate discuss the impact Brexit will have on EU trade mark and design rights in the UK on her podcast: Post-Brexit EU trade mark considerations for UK businesses.
Make online protection a priority
As a result of COVID-19, there’s even more online activity now. Businesses that weren’t online have been pushed that way by the pandemic. So what we’re seeing is an increasing trend of trade mark infringement on the internet, which is going to see businesses thinking about how they’re able to monitor the use of their brands online.
Get yourself noticed
The traditional types of trade marks are words and logos, which is where businesses are always going to prioritize their legal spend. That’s fine when your logo is static and two dimensional. Where technology and businesses are going, in such a competitive market place, means people are always trying to push the envelope. They’re starting to use more innovative ways for branding, which means trade marks have to be more innovative – things like color, smell, holograms, moving trade marks may need to be factored into your protection strategy.