Many small and medium-sized entrepreneurs and businesses overlook brand protection strategies.
Smaller businesses often overlook numerous legal, financial, and marketing benefits to brand protection.
Brand protection strategies can be costly and provide companies with multiple benefits. These might not seem significant when you start, but they will as you grow.
Brand protection strategies are becoming increasingly important in today’s digital age. It is not just large, international companies and businesses with well-known brands that must protect their assets.
With the rise of social media, anyone can broadcast their thoughts on a topic or company to thousands of people in seconds. This means that brands need to have a thorough strategy to deal with any form of negative press before it spirals out of control.
If you’re interested in learning more about brand protection, trademarks, and taking steps to ensure your valuable assets are adequately safeguarded, look no further than the following few lines.
The Basics of Intellectual property
Intellectual property is an individual’s unique, intangible property that can be legally protected. Intellectual property includes creations of the human intellect such as inventions, words, phrases, symbols, and designs. In addition to such works as books and musical compositions, many other intangible properties are now recognized as intellectual property rights, including trade secrets, patents, and trademarks.
As we can see from this definition, there’s a big issue with intellectual property – it is hard to define what exactly it is since it’s so broad and general. Intellectual property has never been fully described in law because the boundaries of what constitutes intellectual property are difficult to establish precisely. It could be argued that if you want to use someone else’s intellectual creations without permission or payment, you’re violating their rights.
Intellectual property is a broad term that encompasses a lot of different categories, but it can be broken down into two basic types: tangible and non-tangible. Real property includes artwork, pictures, and sculptures. The non-tangible property contains people’s names and trademarks.
Intellectual property law will vary depending on what type of intellectual property is being protected.
Intellectual Property law exists to protect these works from infringement by another party.
What is the difference between a trademark, copyright, and a patent?
Intellectual property breaks down into four primary categories:
- Trade Secrets
Trademark: Trademarks are essential for brands to distinguish themselves from other businesses on the market. They are often a necessary part of a brand’s identity.
A trademark does not need to be your company’s actual name, but it can be any word, phrase, or design that is specific to your company and helps you maintain a distinctive brand identity. Trademarks are usually registered with the state where they will be used or sold, and they can last indefinitely as long as they continue to be operated and maintained.
Copyright: Copyright is a form of intellectual property that protects the intellectual creations of individuals, corporations, or other entities. Copyright covers original works such as books and songs. It also covers other materials such as photographs and paintings. The most valuable part of copyright is that it exists in a tangible medium (such as a book or CD) and can be used for commercial purposes.
While copyright protects an author’s original work, it doesn’t protect ideas that the author used to create the piece. Pictures are considered joint property under US law; anyone can use them without getting permission from the original author.
While patents and copyrights are often grouped, they have some significant differences.
Patents: The patent system provides a legal framework for inventors and companies to protect their intellectual property. Patents can be granted for both new and valuable inventions as well as for improvements to existing designs. Patent law is primarily governed by federal statutes, such as the Patent Act, but also relies on common law when necessary to address issues not addressed in the rule.
Copyrights protect creative works, including literary works like novels or poetry; musical compositions and sound recordings; dramatic works like plays or films; choreographic works like dances; pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works such as drawings and paintings; motion pictures and other audio-visual works such as videos; computer programs; and artwork created with computer graphics.
Trade secrets: Trade secrets are pieces of information that have the potential to be confidential. These secrets can be any form, but they usually tend to be more self-explanatory. They are generally related to a specific business or trade and often provide a commercial value to the company.
Trade secrets can sometimes be related to patents and inventions. However, trade secret law is much broader and offers protection for far more types of valuable information than patent law does. Trade secret law also has a very different kind of test for determining if something is considered a trade secret or not than patent law does in general.
A trade secret is any piece of confidential information that has commercial value, rather than just being limited to being an invention or design which would alone qualify it as a patented invention.
As you can see, regardless of which industry you operate in, if you are delivering a product or service or coming up with unique and innovative ideas, a brand protection strategy is crucial.
Types of brand abuse
Loss-making industry, and you’d be mistaken if you thought that it only happens with the most prominent brands.
Typosquatters: Typosquatters rely on the concept of human error and will set up domains very similar to an authorized business’ field in the hope that people will make a typo and land on the typosquatter’s site.
Often, these typosquatters will use confusing domain names or similar-looking sites to trick people into purchasing products they did not intend to buy. For example, the domain “usbmemory.com” is a variant of “usbmemorydirect.com,” both typosquatting domains for – a legitimate site selling USB drives.
Domain squatters: Domain squatters are usually people who register any domain they come across. Spammers and other scammers can use these details to send out malware, steal personal information and make money by selling the parts back to their owners.
Domain squatters have always been an issue on the internet. They spam large sections of the internet, trying to sell products or services that people do not need or have no knowledge about.
Trademark Infringement: Trademark infringement can be a costly problem for businesses of all sizes. It’s essential to register trademarks to protect your brand and intellectual assets.
With the growing competition with other brands, it’s crucial to take proactive steps such as trademark registration. You should also be aware of the common mistakes in trademark registration that could lead to infringement or invalidity of your trademark.
Trademark squatters: Trademark squatters are often seen as black sheep in the trademark community. They are widely believed to be unethical, and while they may not set out to sell counterfeit products, they do so without any concern for the damage that they could cause to a company’s reputation.
The first group of trademark squatters used domains with typos or slight misspellings to try and fool people into thinking that their environment was that of the original business. The second group of trademark squatters will buy up trademarks in international territories where an actual company has yet to register a mark.
Copyright infringement: Copyright infringement involves the unauthorized reproduction and distribution of a copyrighted work.
The main types of copyright infringement are as follows:
– Copyright infringement in digital form, or Digital Piracy, is the unauthorized copying and distribution of copyrighted material, usually music tracks, films, or software. It has become more accessible for people to copy and distribute this content because it can be done digitally at a lower cost.
– Copyright infringements in physical form are usually done with photocopying machines and on DVDs. This is because it’s hard to intercept these copies once they have been manufactured.
– Copyright infringements in print form are becoming less common in recent years because more people prefer to buy digital print books.
As technology advances, many businesses face a dilemma between focusing on short-term revenue and increased market competitiveness or focusing on their long-term brand reputation.
Despite what many may think, prioritizing a brand protection strategy is crucial for any business. A robust, quality brand protection strategy can help the company save money in the long run by preventing issues that could have devastating consequences. Furthermore, a solid and reputable brand can be a precious asset to any business as consumers become more sophisticated over time.
It is not truly possible to protect your company’s brand without spending some money upfront. The question becomes whether investing in your company will pay off later or if companies should take their revenue now and go for competitiveness instead of future success.
It’s hard to avoid falling victim to brand abuse because it can happen anytime. From the moment you get up in the morning and put on your clothes to when you go to bed at night, there are many opportunities for brand abuse. You may not realize that your favorite restaurant is displaying a logo of a competing company or even have their phone number on one of its menus.
Preventing brand abuse can be done by simply being more careful about where you give away your information and by making sure that no one else has access to your details, especially considering how easy it is for hackers to steal information these days.
Contact us for a brand protection diagnostic of your company: