Every business must protect its brand, especially if you are a franchisor (or want to be). It identifies your business, distinguishes your product and services from others and adds value and good will to your business. Yet, protecting and setting up your brand and business for future success is an area that is misunderstood and often neglected. Some business owners tend to “leave it till I have time to deal with it” or simply never get around to it.
This can have serious consequences.
We have had a few clients in recent months who have consulted with us about protecting their brand and intellectual property. These clients were involved in a range of industries including fashion, IT, construction, entertainment and beauty/cosmetics. All young businesses who thought that by simply registering a business name or company with ASIC, a domain name and/or social media accounts was enough to own and protect their brand. It isn’t.
One client received a nasty trade mark infringement letter. Their investment in fitout and signage for their retail premises and ASIC registration fees were wasted. They had little choice but to rebrand their business. This could have been avoided if they had done their research and taken the following steps.
The 10 easy steps to protect your brand are:
- Search the internet, business directories and relevant industry for competitors using the same or similar brand.
- Search ASIC’s business and organisation names register and IP Australia’s trade mark register.
- If there are any same/similar brands being used by competitors - seek legal advice if there is.
- Register the brand name and logo as trade marks.
- Use the “TM” symbol on the brand until it is registered as a trade mark. Once it is registered use the registered symbol ®.
- If the brand logo is a work of art, also consider using the copyright symbol ©.
- Register relevant domain names, business names, company names, social media accounts etc.
- Use the brand or risk losing it to someone else.
- Keep good records of the creation of the brand (name and logo), where, how and when it is being used.
- Repeat the searches in steps 1 and 2 every few months and take steps to stop any competitor that is using the same or similar brand.
Luckily our clients have been able to quickly and efficiently change brands and strategically register trade marks for their brands. If you are serious about your business, then you should be serious about brand protection. It simply must be dealt with and dealt with correctly.
If you need assistance with the above steps or believe a competitor is infringing your brand, please feel free to contact us.
About the author:
Steve Milicevic, owner of Milicevic Lawyers, specialises in Franchising and Business Law. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 55 88 03 for advice or information.