In the last two decades’ businesses have had to adapt and modify the way they sell their goods and services. Businesses have had to establish themselves on online platforms and in this process, have become susceptible to counterfeiters, duplicity and brand abuse. Infringers now use the online presence of a business to their advantage and create an aura that they are identical to the legitimate business, thereby fooling existing and potential customers. Customers who cannot tell the difference between the legitimate business and the infringer suffer the most as they in turn lose trust in the business or the brand and are left with an unauthentic and inferior quality good or service. Every business depends massively on trust and loyalty of customers. Therefore, it is necessary for businesses and brands that are online to protect themselves and their customers.
Here are six ways to protect your brand:
- Ensure your IP is registered – As a first step it is extremely important to ensure that one has their IP registered in the form of trademark, copyright, patent, and design registration.
a) There is no better protection for products than trademark registration. A registered trademark would give a brand complete ownership of the word (like a brand name), logo, tagline, phrases etc. that are used to identify and distinguish from other businesses and can further be used to enforce against an infringer. If the mark is registered in a particular jurisdiction, then the brand has the authority to sue anyone who uses their mark without prior permission.
b) If you are a creator of an artistic, dramatic, literary or a cinematographic work then copyright registration acts as your first defence against copyright infringers. Copyright registration intends to protect the unique expression of any original work such as novels, paintings, screenplays etc. When you create something original, in a fixed, tangible form the copyright automatically gets attached to that work and there is no requirement for it to be published or use it in commerce to have rights over your original work.
Therefore, registration of your IP forms the first step in ensuring that your brand is well protected.
2. Building A Strong Brand Presence – The best protection against infringers and counterfeiters is a strong brand presence. It would be rare to see someone selling a pizza under the Domino’s trademark or burger under the McDonalds trademark, this is because large number of people know exactly what type of products these brands sell and what quality to expect from them. It is essential to note that businesses need to maximize their investment in the overall consumer experience and it would become harder for a potential infringer to misuse the brand name. A brand should spare no expense in defending their brand against any potential infringement. This protection also includes setting clear standards of how the brand operates from within the organization along with any misuse from third parties. Therefore, it is important to stay in touch with the customers while also being on the lookout for those trying to use your brand to their advantage.
3. Securing the brand’s online presence – It is recommended that a brand uses only one domain for your organization, but it important that a brand purchases and parks all domain names. This would include .com, .net, .org and other versions of domain names, because when a brand starts receiving huge exposure, the competitors are alerted and are always on the look-out to purchase the domain names of that brand and cyber-squat or try to sell it for an extravagant price. It is also important to procure all relevant social media handles before someone else claims them and then offers to sell it to the brand at a hefty price or just is not willing to give up the social media handle, thereby confusing customers and leading to loss in revenue and brand identity.
4. Draft appropriate Non-Disclosure Agreements – A non-disclosure agreement helps protect a brand that relies mostly on independent contractors and freelancers. A non-disclosure agreement prevents freelancers and contractors from using, sharing a brand’s practices, processes, confidential information that they might offer to a brand’s competitor in return for huge compensation. Similarly, a brand also needs to bind their full time employees to a non-disclosure agreement, in case where the employee is poached by a competitor and they divulge confidential information about how the brand operates and functions. Therefore, it is extremely worth it and essential to have a legally binding non-disclosure agreement with employees, in order to secure and guard the brand.
5. Monitor your competition – A brand always needs to be on the lookout and actively monitor the market for any sign of infringement. If a brand’s IP is registered, it should from time to time search online if someone else is using the IP without permission. It is important to ensure that a competitor is not copying the brand’s logo, designs and original work by looking and perusing at the competitor’s website, social media and other pertinent business avenues.
6. Strategize fighting infringement – It is necessary for a registered IP owner to aggressively and tactically identify and fight any type of brand infringement. When a brand identifies an infringer, it should begin by sending a letter to the infringer, highlighting the concerns and a plan for a potential resolution. If there is no response from the infringing party then, the brand should send a cease and desist notice. If the infringing party is still unresponsive, then initiating civil or criminal action is the recourse a brand should take to protect its IP.
We can interpret from the 6 ways to protect your brand that, if in today’s time a brand is not protecting themselves from infringers then it is going to be losing money, the brand reputation is going to suffer, third parties would be openly stealing ideas and infringing IP and all of this will culminate into huge losses for the brand. Hence, it is essential to follow 6 ways to ensure that the brand remains well protected and continues to thrive.
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- World beyond the Universe: METAVERSE (available at: https://photonlegal.com/blogs/world-beyond-the-universe-metaverse/ )
- Combatting Brand Abuse: Why Brand Protection Is Crucial? (available at: https://photonlegal.com/blog/combatting-brand-abuse-why-brand-protection-is-crucial/ )
- ALEXA- avoid Patent Infringement! (available at: https://photonlegal.com/blogs/alexa-avoid-patent-infringement/ )
- Can Keywords Infringe Trademarks? (available at: https://photonlegal.com/blog/can-keywords-infringe-trademarks/ )