Your brand exists as a means of communicating what to expect from your business, organisation, product or service and is something that you have invested in probably from the concept stage of your business. What you do and how you do it are driven by your brand values, and decisions you make define your brand. Your brand sets you apart from your competitors. But have you thought about protecting your brand?
To put the value of a brand into perspective, think about some of the top global brands such as Coca-Cola, Apple or IBM. When you think about these brands, you will probably think about a product or service, or even a promise of an experience which defines your expectation of that brand. Your brand has this power too, and who knows, one day it might be sitting in the top 100 global superbrands!
Your brand is a valuable asset to your business and you’ve invested time, energy & money in getting your businesses established. You’ve created your brand, built a great customer base and are delivering fantastic products and services that you are really, really proud of. Even the accountants place a value on a brand – it’s called goodwill and is valued as an asset in the balance sheet of your business.
Your brand is worth protecting so that nobody else can use it. It’s so easy to do and very cost effective.
Intellectual property – patents, trade mark, design rights, copyright
The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is part of the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills. Their website is very user friendly and offers a wealth of information regarding protecting your brand, designs and inventions. Their downloadable booklet Intellectual Property Explained provides some really great information and is well worth a read.
Protect your brand by registering your trade mark
You can protect your brand by registering your ‘Trade Mark’ with the Intellectual Property Office. A trade mark is your brand identity; for example words or logos that distinguish your goods or services from those of your competitors. The only way to register your trade mark is to apply to the Intellectual Property Office. It’s a very straightforward process and can even be done online.
Registering your trade mark only costs £200, and provides protection for your trade mark in one business classification for 10 years. You can register your trade mark in additional classifications for a cost of £50 each. After 10 years you can renew your registration. If you apply online you currently receive a £30 discount. The application is straightforward and only takes about 15 minutes.
Before going ahead with your application, it is worthwhile carrying out a trade mark search using the free enquiry database on the IPO website, to make sure that your trade mark has not already been registered. If you are at business start-up stage, it’s worth doing a search to make sure your chosen name hasn’t been registered by someone else.
The information you need to complete an application are the trade mark you are registering with, a jpeg of your logo, business details, contact details and payment information. The dudes and dudettes at the Intellectual Property Office are very helpful should you have any queries before, during or after your application.
When you receive confirmation that your trade mark has been successfully registered (this can take up to 4 months because your application will be published) you can proudly display the ‘R’ symbol beside your trade mark to tell the world that it is registered and warn others against using it.
A registered trade mark is your property, which means that you can sell it or franchise it, or let other people have a licence that allows them to use it.
By protecting your trade mark you are protecting your brand and all the goodwill you have built up with all the great work that you are doing.