Protecting Your Brand Via Trademarking
For any business owner serious about building a definable brand presence in the market, trademarking is an absolute necessity. The scope for what can actually be trademarked is fairly wide; words, phrases, logos, symbols – really any original content that gives a visual representation of your brand.
Trademarking your brand is what will prevent other competing firms from leeching off your success. We will examine in more detail what you stand to gain through trademarking, how this will affect your business, and what to do in the event of a potential breach, with the end result being a greater level of insight into the process.
What is Goodwill Anyway?
A trademark essentially represents a connection between your chosen image or phrase, and the good or services your firm provides. It informs what customers think of your business, influencing a concept known as ‘goodwill’. The more goodwill your business holds in the eyes of your target market, the greater level of trust and loyalty they will demonstrate towards you. If you fail to trademark your brand, then competitors are free to use similar marks as a way of attracting business away from you, essentially ‘piggy backing’ on your hard earned goodwill.
How Does Registering a Trademark Protect Me?
By registering a trademark you ensure exclusive domain over that mark, at least within New Zealand, as it applies to your industry. Your mark is placed on a publicly searchable database, which is often enough to deter any would-be infringers. This allows you to maintain control over the direction of your brand, and how it is placed within the marketplace, free of interference.
What If There is an Infringement?
The reason most firms will avoid risking infringing upon a trademark is the fact that the penalties can be extremely costly. Anyone found to be in breach of a trademark can be liable for damages, in addition to the costs of litigation and corrective advertising. If you suspect another firm is using a confusingly similar mark, resolving this dispute will be far easier than if your trademark had gone unregistered. Registration represents and indisputable claim to title; if you registered the mark first, you have rights to it. Though you can still contest this in the case of unregistered marks, the process is more complex, drawn out, and troublesome.
Trademarking is ultimately a fairly simple process, with the rewards far outweighing the hassle of registration. In an increasingly competitive marketplace it is more important than ever to hold a strong brand presence in order to foster customer loyalty.