Having been a Senior Marketing Director in an earlier life and now being a grateful and flat out Sales & Marketing Mentor working the Streets of Sydney – the critical area of “Trademarks, Intellectual Property, Copyright, Rights Ownership” and the like has been part of many discussions I have had from the Boardroom to the Cafe.
As a Corporate, it was just part of the job. We would create something visually lets say (e.g. a new logo) and then it would go through “Legal” for the necessary protection. As Marketers, we quite often thought this was just “Hoops” they made us jump through and I honestly never gave it the respect I probably should have.
CHANGE ALL THAT TO BUSINESS! Totally different.
When I started my own business I had met so many people that didn’t go through some form of “Trademarking” or at least some type of protection to get very nasty letters from solicitors. This could result in massive costs in changing websites, logos and at times whole design concepts because they received a “letter” in the mail.
I even got one once. I had a business networking group by the name of “Schmooze” and got contacted by another company of that name threatening me with legal action. I quickly changed it go “Squeeze” and good news – people liked it more!
In having felt a light version of the stress and pain myself, over time I have been lucky to work with the Intelligent and Hardworking Suzanne Harrington from Pinnacle TMS. She has been very kind to guest blog for us right on “The Edward Files” and trust you shall love it.
“Have you been guilty of thinking this as a business owner?” – Guest Blog by Suzanne Harrington:
As a business owner, I network with other business owners every week. I’m sure you do too!
It can be very rewarding both in terms of friendships, contacts, new work and referrals. I know I have made some wonderful friends over the 4 years I have been building my business that I would never have made had I stayed as an employee at a large Sydney law firm.
I have also met some business owners who are very busy building their business and reputation, but when I say I am a Trade Mark Specialist they are quick to say that they don’t need my services. Usually this is because they have too many other things to think of to build their business and often say they will get back to me. Some of them do – like (lets call him) “Dave”.
I met Dave at a networking function and he was full of enthusiasm for his new business. Following our meeting I did some quick research on the name he had chosen and found a competitor in another State using the same name for the same services. I suggested to Dave he might want to reconsider and pick another name for his business.
Dave discussed it with his partner, but they decided they would take the risk and go ahead – after all they had just spent over $5,000 on websites, marketing, etc and the other business was in another State.
Is this something that you would have thought was a reasonable risk for your business?
18 months later I got a call from Dave – he had received a ‘cease and desist’ letter from the other business owner’s lawyer. What could he do?!
What does that mean? Basically, either Dave had to change his name or the other business owner could sue him for trade mark infringement. He could not only sue the business, he could sue Dave personally. This can be devastating for a small business owner!
When you have a trade mark registration you have the right to:
– exclusive use of the name or a name that is similar in the same or related industry for the products or services covered by the registration.
– sue a competitor if they continue to use your registered trade mark or anything similar where confusion in the marketplace is taking place or could take place.
Of course, Dave had to change his name or be involved in a trade mark dispute which could add up to over $15,000.
Now this meant that Dave had to select another name and spend money on the rebrand of that new name – the result is time out from the building of his business and a focus away from the momentum he had gained by all the networking he had been doing.
Protect Yourself and Your Business
Trade marks are an important strategic tool in setting your business up for local, and international success. Having a trade mark registration for your business name or product name can be critical to getting the peace of mind to build your business and promote your products and services knowing you do actually own your brand. You can also take steps to stop a competitor copying your brand and trading on your reputation and so avoid business identity theft.
Some planning on your part early on to do that will most certainly reap rewards in the future for your business.
If you have any questions on trademarking your business name or product name in Australia or overseas, you can contact me or head over to Amazon where my #1 Best Selling book Trademarking Your Business is current at a reduced price of $3.99.
Trade Mark Specialist
Suzanne’s #1 Best Selling Book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AMAN9WY
Edward’s Post Blog Commentary:
A true, common story that I heard many variants of far before I met the awesome Suzanne Harrington. In being legally threatened as well in relation to the name of “Schmooze” (it was very stressful and upsetting as I just started out in business), I know the feeling.
Suzanne is a character I quite like – she rarely tells you want you “Want to hear”, but she tells you “What you must hear” to help you build a safe and protected business.
My advice? If you are a little spooked / nervous about what you have it maybe time to email or call Suzanne. Better safe than sorry and love her work!
Marketing Mentor, 4Networking Regional Leader, Blogger & Business Commentator, aka “The Crazy Persian”, AFAMI CPM