Losing a trademark could move your business a step closer to obscurity.
Do you believe that Dyson would ever allow the loss of their intellectual property to protect the manufacture of their bladeless fans? Would Rhianna give away the copyright to her multi-million selling songs around the world? Would McDonald’s allow their trademark ‘M’ symbol to slip across to a competitor?
For the same reasons, establishing the core management of your trademarks is a necessity for your business, not just an occasional problem for any individual to deal with.
What does your trademark do for your business?
Your trademark is an instantly recognisable sign, expression or design that helps everyone easily identify specific products or services that are supplied from a particular source. The smallest of businesses can register their own trademarks. The owner of your trademark may be an individual, your business organisation or even a legal entity.
You only have to see the red V or the full word ‘Virgin’ in its established font, to link that brief trademark moment with a company that has been building its brand over 40 years.
Seeing their trademark is enough to remind you about their CEO/chairman, some of their products and in particular, the level of service that you would expect from every single element of their business.
When people see your trademark, that’s exactly how they consider you.
Could you lose your trademark?
The law governs how your trademark can remain legal and applicable to your business. Should you fail to follow trademark laws or even use your trademark, you are taking a substantial risk that the trademark that worked exclusively for you in the past, may no longer exist.
You may decide to alter your branding and stop using a previous trademark for a period of time. Your legal adviser will be able to provide you with all the information about what could happen to a trademark if you fail to use it.
- Do you know how long your trademark stays with you if you fail to use it?
- Do you know the procedures for clawing back your trademark if you lose it?
- Do you know the costs involved, should you have trademark problems?
When you don’t know the answers to these questions, you are at a higher risk than most of losing the use of your trademark. Once you lose your trademark, there may be circumstances where you may never be able to use it again in the future. Coca-Cola, for example, often changes their packaging and what you may recognise as their trademark, may change from time to time. They carefully ensure that all trademark recognition from the general public and the trade is maintained so that it may never be forgotten.
Manage the way you share your trademark
Any contract that allows you to offer the use of your trademark, by another business, must be 100% secure, for the current owner. If you decide to provide your trademark to a company that prints T-shirts for your business, it must clear that the trademark belongs to you, even where they have prepared a design that includes your trademark.
When you allow your trademark to be used generically, you run the risk that other individuals or businesses may believe they have access to your trademark, for their business advantage.
In the US, to take a photocopy of anything is often called a Xerox. In the UK, when you vacuum a carpet, it is called hoovering the carpet. These examples show you how individuals take over the use of a trademark as they become everyday terms.
If a trademark is important to you, taking steps to ensure its longevity and management are vital sources of legal and dedicated work for your business officials. A trademark helps you build a brand and protecting the brand is essential.