What is the first thing that customer observes about the business? Brand. In modern age, brand means business. Brand creates the first impression about the product. Through it’s a intangible asset, but still it is the thing of highest value to the organization. Hence, securing this brand is of course is the most important area rather a challenge for the organization. Definition of brand is expanding as ever, further in the age of internet, the difference between the line of business and difference of brand is very thin. Hence, it is becoming more and more complex to set the line of difference between the competitors and stealers.
I recall a case from Harward Business review, which is of prime importance in this area, I like to reproduce the same
In August 1998, Apple Computer launched the iMac, a compact, all-in-one computer clad in translucent blue plastic. It immediately became a huge hit with consumers, due in large part to its distinctive design. Its robust sales spurred a dramatic turnaround at Apple. Exactly one year later, eMachines introduced the eOne, a compact, all-in-one computer clad in translucent blue plastic. Apple sued eMachines, claiming the company had illegally copied the iMac’s design. “We’ve invested a lot of money and effort to create and market our award-winning computer designs,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs, “and we intend to protect them under the law.
This news was 16 years ago. Since then, everything has been changed. If you think that you can protect your brand only legally, then results might frustrate you. This is also because the definition of brand is expanding and the boundaries between the them is so fuzzy, that it is more difficult to defend it legally.
So, what to do?
Companies will have to work proactively for their brands. They have to prepare the legal strategy for their business and take precautionary steps to prevent their business from cheating. There are four important steps that you could do to avoid the court battles.
Four Steps Of Strategy
#Step 1: Prepare Documentary: The first is to analyze your own brand and prepare a documentary for all the distinctive features. Your brand is your hard work and if it is original, it will always be different. Also, analyze the brands which are similar to yours and identify the difference between them. This will allow your product to stand out from the existing products and strengthen your trademarks rights.
#Step 2: Analyze the Legal environment: It is very important to understand that where we stand today and in which environment. Understand the law of the state and check the application and the legal remedies available to you. In India, there is basically three way of protecting the brand:
a) Trademark: Trademark law allows you to protect your logo, brand name which is the foremost feature of any business. Like Amazon is a brand and it registered under Trademark law, hence it provides the brand the suitable protection, so that no one can use it.
b) Patents: Patents are generally provides protection to any technology, any scientific procedure, a method or invention. E..g. Cipla invented a new medicine for any disease by his own investment and research lab, now if he patents it, then none else can manufacture that medicine by that technique.
c) Copyright: Copyright is generally for protecting the content. E..g. Chetan Bhagat writes a book and if he has to protect it legally then he will have to copyright it.
Hence, it is important to understand that where you stand today and which protection applies to you. And then work accordingly.
#Step 3: Check the status of TM regularly: Trademark protection is the most commonly used and it applies to almost every business. Trademark registration takes around 2 years to get registered, however, if it is not monitored properly, you will lose the protection without any information. Do keep a track on it, and if you could not, hire a agency.
#Step 4: Keep a check on others: Apart from keeping any protection and monitoring on your brand, you will also have to monitor the other brand similar to yours. If you find any brand similar to you, then you must object on that and oppose that from being registered. In India, you can visit the TM public search, and search for TM similar to yours. Further, IP department also issues TM journal for the trademark, keep a track on that and if you find anything similar to you, oppose it.
It is pretty important that you start forming your legal strategy as well. Historically, there is no term like that, but in the modern age, we need strategy for anything now. Also, brand and experiences may not appear on the balance sheet, but they are most important assets of your business. A legal defeat will be a death of your brand and a victory may cause you thousands of dollars. Hence, we have to be in between, so take the proactive steps, have a proper documentary, have a legal strategy and go and win the world.