How to Protect your Brand

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YOUR BRAND IS A VALUABLE ASSET.

Your brand consists of a range of things, but in a nutshell, your brand is your name, your company’s name, a logo, any design associated with that. It is the “thing” that your customers or potential customers think of or know about your product or service.

4 Ways to Protect a Brand:
  1. TRADEMARK
  2. COPYRIGHT
  3. CONFIDENTIALITY AND NONDISCLOSURE CONTRACTS WITH CONTRACTORS AND/OR EMPLOYEES
  4. WEBSITE TERMS AND CONDITIONS

    Let’s look a little closer.

 TRADEMARK - If you have a logo or a tagline that makes your business uniquely yours - then you should consider trying to trademark those (brand).

REAL STORY Joanne had spent about five years planning her business and had planned her exit from her day job. She was so excited, she had her MOODBOARD all sorted, her colors looked gorgeous and her designer did an amazing job with her logo AND it looked sensational. It cost a bomb but she believed it was so worth it.

When she called me, Joanne said that she had had a little voice deep in her heart saying, “Maybe you should protect that logo?” And that was followed by a big booming voice in her head saying, “Don’t be stupid, NO-ONE WOULD DARE STEAL MY LOGO!

So she left it.

Her business took off really quickly and she was so busy with clients, she barely had time to think. A year into the business Joanne received a letter from a lawyer telling her to cease using the tagline because it was trademarked by Business X.

Joanne felt sick.

In the correspondence, she received a screenshot  of something that looked very much like her logo in slightly different colors. Joanne contacted a lawyer to learn that while she did not technically “Own” that logo because she didn’t register it as a trademark she could try to sue but it would cost her in the vicinity of $15,000+ to try.

 

COPYRIGHT - You will want to protect the copy that wraps around your brand and taglines. Mainly because it boosts the story behind the brand. If you live in a country where it is possible to register you may consider registering any copy that relates to your brand. Some countries like Australia, copyright is automatic.

CONFIDENTIALITY AND NONDISCLOSURE CONTRACTS WITH CONTRACTORS AND/OR EMPLOYEES - When you are brainstorming or in the stages of planning, designing or creating logos, taglines or anything related to your brand, your ideas are vulnerable to theft. You cannot protect ideas, but you can protect the expression of those ideas (copyright and trademarks etc). And while I like to believe that most people do not deliberately “steal” things, things happen. As a brand can be a very valuable asset to a business, it is not worth risking.

REAL STORY

A few years ago, I conducted a court ordered mediation for business partners who were in dispute about the ownership of a “logo” with their web designer of ten years.

The business owners had started expensive litigation for breach of contract with the designer regarding the theft of intellectual property,  The business owners said that they did have a nondisclosure agreement with the web designer. The web designer was denying any breach of the agreement.

One of the most difficult things in this mediation was the breakdown of the long working relationship between the parties.

Because lawyers often take an adversarial approach, the parties had not had a discussion after the initial complaint. Then the relationship broke down.

During the mediation it was revealed that the web-designer and the business owners had shared a virtual assistant. The VA had been at the meeting, but was working on a number of other things at the same time. He did not sign any confidentiality documents because he was doing other tasks.  

The web-designer revealed that the VA had been trying to improve his skills at designing and during a busy time assisted the web-designer to prepare some design plans for clients.

The mediation was paused in order for both parties to make inquiries about what the VA increased costs again.

When we reconvened, the parties discussed that they wanted to withdraw the application for the web-designer. It appeared that the VA absorbed some of the unique aspects of the logo which then was transferred to another party in a draft document.

However the web-designer was seeking legal costs which, to date had been about $10,000 for each side.

Although the mediation for the original complaint had been resolved, the mediation took 6 hours to discuss the issue of costs and the long working relationship that had completely broken down.

This is one example of how a simple agreement could have saved not only a fairly large chunk of money, but also a long working relationship that was, at the end of the session, almost irreconcilable. agreement with the web designer. The web designer was denying any breach of the agreement. WEBSITE TERMS AND CONDITIONS - Your Website Terms and conditions is a contract between you and your website visitors, so they are put on notice about the rules of the website.  

Website documents cover things like:

  • Privacy

  • Copyright and Ownership

  • Disclaimers

  • Age of visitor

  • Warnings regarding language

 If you would like further detail on website terms and conditions - click HERE for a specific blog on that topic.

 Your brand is a valuable asset in your business and it is possible to protect your brand with four easy steps. 

Trademark any logo, name or phrase, image or tagline that makes your business unique and identifiable to your audience

Copyright protection for all your music, writing and any other material because that is the context of your business

Nondisclosure and confidentiality agreements with every single person who is privy to that secret information regarding your brand, from the beginning of the ideas onward.

Website terms and conditions which set the rules of the website for all visitors.

For more information or to purchase any ready to go templates to protect your business - click HERE, many countries can be accommodated.