What is a trademark and how can it protect your business? - NM Group News

What is a trademark and how can it protect your business?

Whether your business has been long established or it’s just starting up, building a brand is a long process that requires planning, strategy, and creativity.

For some, the meaning of the term ‘brand’ can be elusive. Is it a logo, your reputation, or just the name everyone knows you by?

Effectively, a brand is all of these things. Just think of some of the world’s biggest food and fashion brands – they all come with a story, and it’s not hard to picture them in your mind when you hear the brand name or spot their logo.

But what happens when someone builds a brand that is suspiciously a lot like your own? Without a trademark for your brand, a competitor can create a new brand that is likely to confuse your clientele with a similar name or logo. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

Knowing the value of your brand

Think of your favourite restaurant, or perhaps the brand that sponsors your favourite sports team. Can you picture their branding and colour scheme? Does a recent memory pop into your head?

Each brand has its story, which will inevitably play a part in their audience’s lives. Whether it’s a lived experience or an impression, a brand will develop a reputation that will work hand in hand with their name and logo.

Now, think of the time you have invested in building your brand’s reputation, as well as the branding concepts behind the name and logo. You might have even engaged an agency to help you with this, so we can also add money to that equation.

Your brand holds an immeasurable amount of value. Wouldn’t you want to keep it safe?

Your brand at risk

Back to worst case scenario. Another business has copied elements of your branding and has had it registered – effectively trademarking your brand in their name? Just think of all the professional and legal help you would have to engage in order to prove the likeness of your brand and that it existed first.

You can never know when to expect a nightmare like this – but you can prepare for the possibility.

Understanding trademarks: What are they for?

A trademark means protection.

Having TM by your brand name protects it as a sign capable of being represented graphically, as well as of distinguishing goods and services of one undertaking from those of another. 

A trademark may consist of words (including personal names), figurative elements, letters, numerals or the shape of goods or their packaging.

First, it’s important to understand the distinction between the three types of protection available. 

  1. A trademark is a word, phrase, name or symbol (logo) that identifies a company, a product or a service and distinguishes it from competitors. 
  2. Patents protect inventions or discoveries such as processes, machines, and designs for products.
  3. Copyright protects original works of authorship both published and unpublished, such as artistic works like poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software and architecture. Copyrights do not protect facts, ideas, systems or methods of operation.

You can trademark your company name, product names, logos and taglines, however you can’t trademark an invention or a piece of software – that’s where patents and copyright come in.

Why is it important to protect your brand?

Registering a trademark protects your intellectual property associated with your brand. This includes:

  • Exclusive rights to use the mark: Once you have your trademark, you own the exclusive right to use your mark either on or in association with your brand.
  • Preventing unauthorized use: Having a trademark gives you the right to protect your brand in cases of unauthorized use of your mark in conjunction with the same or similar product offerings that you have protected under your trademark filing.

Don’t run the risk of losing all the clout and recognition your brand has gained. Save yourself the headache and trademark your brand.

Protect your brand with a trademark. We can help with the process from start to finish. Get in touch today!