A priority for every business should be building a valuable brand. “Brand” means a name, symbol or design that identifies or differentiates a company’s goods or services. Protecting intellectual property is a key strategy to building a valuable brand. Too often entrepreneurs neglect IP protection until years down the road. Not only does protecting IP help build your brand, it creates significant legal remedies. These legal remedies, in turn, will help fend off lazy competitors. Depending on the business there are three areas of IP to protect.
Common Intellectual Property Types
Patents. Patents are what most people associate with intellectual property. There are two common types of patents: utility and design. Utility patents are the most common. A utility patent relates to technological inventions that produce a new and useful technology. Design patents protect ornamental designs on useful objects.
Trademarks. This is one of the most neglected aspects of IP protection. Business trademarks include a name, logo or catchphrase. A registered trademark stops competitors from copying the registered mark. Think of names like Apple, Samsung, Disney, and Coca-Cola. The brand recognition in these trademarked names is immediate and powerful.
Copyrights. A copyright is an author’s exclusive legal right to use her creative works. These works can include printed, published, performance, film, literary, artistic or musical creations. A great example is your company website. Often a company website as a whole forms an artistic work. Marketing materials also often qualify as artistic creations. A website or marketing brochure often form a company’s brand. The next time you visit Apple.com, look at the very bottom of the webpage. Notice the “Copyright © 2015 Apple Inc. All rights reserved.”
Why Protecting IP Matters
There are advantages to protecting IP through registration. The first is establishing your company’s brand. There are few things that create greater credibility than ® or © symbols or Patent No. By acquiring exclusive rights to your IP, you prevent competitors from using your brand. Think again of the names Apple, Samsung, Disney and Coca-Cola. Imagine if a mobile phone company could use the name Apple and how that would dilute Apple’s brand. Finally, by protecting your IP, you acquire significant legal remedies and favorable legal presumptions. When lazy competitors attempt to dilute your brand you will be in a position of legal strength.
Brand Value Through Registered IP
The value of an established brand is unquantifiable. When I say “Coca-Cola,” you think of adorable polar bears, a red can, or fizzing brown liquid. Powerful images. A recent case study attempted to determine how much “brand” accounted for Coca-Cola’s valuation. The study compared Coca-Cola to RC Cola, a company lower in value. The conclusion, Coca Cola’s “brand” accounted for a staggering 75% of its value. In other words, Coca-Cola’s brand increased its actual value by $64 billion (yes billion). Do you think Coca-Cola’s competitors would misappropriate its brand if they could? The answer is yes. Registered patents, trademarks, and copyrights stop this from happening.
The next time you pick up a red Coca-Cola can with the sweeping cursive font, look for that small ®. There are quite a few zeros behind it from Coca-Cola’s brand perspective. That is why protecting IP from competitors is so important in building a valuable brand.
Johnstun Law can help you with all your Intellectual Property needs. To learn more about the services we offer, click here.
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