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From registered trademarks to intellectual property

Make sure your brand and hard work is protected online

Today, the internet has made it easy for anyone to set up an online business. Yes, I understand the joy that comes with owning an online business. But setting up an online business is not enough. You need to put effective measures in place towards protecting your online brand.

Many people assume the importance of protecting their online brands without realising that this may land them in great trouble. With the rising number of online businesses being set up every day, you need to consider protecting your online reputation and brand.

Trust me, you won’t love it when your competitors take advantage of your brand and damage your company’s reputation or even steal your treasured ideas. Regardless of the size of your company, protecting your online brand should be an important aspect of your online business strategy.

Protecting your intellectual property should be a priority given the fact that small to mid-sized online businesses can be affected by branding issues. Protecting your brand from infringements is essential because you need to move on with your plans without any interference from your competitors.

It is sad to say that many start-ups may not see the importance of protecting their online brands. However, it can be quite costly to battle with someone who infringes on your brand.

Did you know that your online brand can be a significant asset for your business? Yes, you heard me right. Protecting your online brand can save you from a lot of online infringements. Here are some of the main ways in which you can protect your online brand:

  • Confidential Information: Whether it is internal data or customer lists, every online business has confidential information. There are numerous ways for protecting confidential information, including the use of non-disclosure agreements or through employment contracts.
  • Patents: Patent protection may be granted to businesses that create inventive and new processes, methods or products. However, many inventions are often denied a patent because the requirements for getting a patent are strict.
  • Trademarks: The most important part of protecting your business reputation online is through obtaining a trademark for your business’s logo, design or domain name. You should put in the same energy you used to build your brand in protecting it through trademark registration.

Hence, if you are an online start-up, you can’t afford to miss the opportunity to protect your brand.

Trademark registration is the most effective form of protecting your brand online. Registering your trademark will help you distinguish your online services or products from those of your competition. In addition, you can automatically prevent other online businesses from using your brand to advertise similar services or products without your consent.

The other party will be said to have infringed your trademark if they illegally use your registered trademark. In such cases, the trademark owner can stop the other company from further infringement using ‘cease and desist’ letter.

Your trademark can consist of colours, shapes, slogans, images, logos, or words. In most cases, the trademark serves as a badge of origin for business start-ups.

It is recommendable that you register your trademark with relevant authority like regional trademark office. Unregistered trademarks are not safe because they offer limited protection in cases that deal with infringement or copying.

As a start-up, you can be assured of minimising future enforcement cost by registering your trademark with relevant authorities.

Paying attention to your competitors’ activities is important to ensure that they are not infringing your brand. Take action as soon as possible when you witness or suspect infringement of your online brand.

Registering a trademark will prevent your competitors from taking advantage or copying the goodwill in your company or business name.

It is important to register trademarks because they act as valuable business assets. The most common forms of trademark include pictures, logos, and words.

Did you know that sounds and smells can also be registered as trademarks? Yes, it’s possible. Examples of brands that have successfully been registered and protected as trademarks are like family names (e.g. Louis Vuitton), colours (e.g. the yellow of Yellow Pages), and designs (e.g. the Coca-Cola bottle).

Registering a trademark increases the remedies in case someone infringes upon it, prevents others from using your trademark and heightens the protection it receives. Below, we have discussed the advantages that come with registering your trademark:

  • Registering your trademark provides you with greater remedies as the owner

Registering your trademark gives you the right to sue anyone who infringes your trademark before a court.

You can successfully file for a dispute resolution policy for an infringing internet domain name by simply registering your trademark.

You will receive the presumption of being the genuine owner of your brand name when you register the trademark.

Registering a trademark automatically gives you the right to claim up to triple fees and damages of your trademark lawyer from the infringing party.

  • Registering a trademark prevents your competitors from using your trademark

Registering a trademark automatically prevents other similar businesses from confusing your customers by using the same logo, domain name, word or even design.

Also, your trademark will be found in the search reports after registering it. Hence, this discourages your competitors from proceeding with the registration of similar or the same mark.

Registering your trademark offers you the opportunity to prevent the defense of innocent infringement by altering others to your registration.

  • Registering a trademark offers your business greater protection

You will benefit from registering your trademark because it offers greater protection for your company’s logo, design, word, domain name, etc.

An online brand can gain registrations and priority in foreign countries through federal trademark registration. In this case, your business will get foreign trademark protection.

Registering your company sends a message to your competitors that the trademark is already taken and they cannot use a similar mark. The most impressing part is that other business owners can’t claim ignorance to your trademark.

  • Protecting an online brand allow start-ups to effectively use social media and the Internet.

When your customers are in need of your services or products, the first thing they will do is enter your brand in social media networks (Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) or search engines.

Protecting your brand translates to more brand recognition, more customers, more traffic and higher rankings.

Conclusively, protecting your online brand prevents your business from encountering trademark infringements such as:

  • Negative newsgroup postings and gripe sites;
  • Parody sites and domain name abuse;
  • Use of images or logos in a pornographic context;
  • Use of a company’s name on a competitor’s site;
  • Framing;
  • Unauthorised sale or distribution of consumer goods;
  • Video, music and software privacy;
  • Unauthorised use of a company’s product or name in meta tags;
  • Use of visible and hidden text; and
  • Unauthorised use of images and logos.

A recent study released by the International Trademark Association (INTA), showed that trademark counterfeiting and infringement made online businesses and start-ups lose approximately 25 percent of sales.

Now that you are aware of the benefits that come with protecting your online brand, you should take decisive action right away to avoid encountering any form of brand abuse.