You’ve come very close to your dream of having an original brand. You know everything you need to have. The logo and mission statement are ready. But before introducing yourself to the public, there is one crucial measure that you still need to undertake. And that is, to protect your intellectual property from any copyright infringement. All your efforts and ideas deserve to be safe. Here is what you need to do to protect your brand.
Trademark Your Brand
Most companies know this is among the first things they should do. Do you have a symbol, word or image that you associate with your brand the most? Then, you should trademark it, unless it’s already taken. Once you’ve legally registered your trademark, it will be used to represent only your product, company or service. Voila!
First things to the trademark are the logo and company name. However, it also applies to other features if those are relevant to your brand. Ascent could be registered as well, the most famous example would be the Chanel N5. Or maybe there is a signature sound or font that is characteristic of your brand. Many would easily recall the fanfare of 20th Century Fox that continues to be the beginning of the most beloved movies for decades. A less exciting but no less memorable example would be the Nokia tune.
Local vs. Global Protection
To have a trademark for your brand, company or product in the U.S is good step to start with. However, as your brand will grow chances of copyright infringement can move on to a global scale. Laws are different across countries, so its good to keep it in mind. If you’re just starting you might not want to do that, however thinking ahead will definitely benefit your business.
Google Alerts at Your Service
Setting up Google Alerts will help you a lot while you try to protect your brand. It will take a couple of minutes but it will become surprisingly handy. How could you know if there is a copyright issue with your brand if you don’t know where and how it is mentioned? Google Alerts will help you track it and detect possible problems.
After you have found someone using any of your content without you authorizing it, its time to act. You should send the person a “Cease and Desist” letter which is also referred to as “Take Down Notice.” It notifies that you are the owner of the mark and they have to remove any of it from their website, services or products.
Get a Patent to Protect Your Brand
If you think that with your work you are up to something original, then you need to get a patent. They will protect you from huge problems such as ligitation and copycats.
So, what exactly is a patent? It is the lawful right intended for a specific period of time that prohibits others to unlawfully use, produce and sell an invention. Patents do have an expiration date, with the average lasting about 14-20 years. Mostly the number of years depending on the type of the patent. For utility patents, 14 year is the best, while for design patents it’s usually up to 20.
But bear in mind that a patent does not protect an idea. It should be embodied in a process or method to manufacture something in a new way, a machine, a new composition (a new pharmaceutical for example), etc.
Before you consider filing for a patent, know its three types.
- Plant (botanical)
Be aware that getting a patent might be difficult. Especially if you work in a big industry where its pretty hard to come up with an innovation. Nowadays, most patents are awarded to outstanding innovations which beat the competition.
While your company’s website, or visual characteristics, in general, are important to protect, patents are a bit different. Patents are more about what your business has to offer.
You can learn more about how to protect your brand at the United States Patent and Trademark Office website. All your original and brilliant ideas deserve to be safe. Good luck with that!