Establishing a recognisable brand that aligns to your product or service is a vital part of growing as a business. However, this process is easier said than done and requires a consistent commitment to market and promote your business. Distinct brand recognition can often be the difference in standing out from competitors in the market.
As a result, your brand can build to the point where it is extremely valuable to the future prospects of your business. This is why taking measures to protect your brand as early as possible is important. There are a number of legal and administrative actions you can take to safeguard the unique components of your business. These will not only serve as protection but can add value to and boost your reputation.
When people think of branding they often look to a business’ name and logo as key identifiers. Trademarks legally protect what you use to uniquely distinguish your business. They will prevent unauthorised use of your material by others, halting competitors from exploiting your success. In addition, you’ll have the exclusive right to use, sell and licence your trademark. This is a fairly necessary action in terms of protection, especially if you intending to commercially market your product or service.
It is important once you register your trademark to keep an eye out for any infringements. As the registered owner you are responsible for monitoring and policing the use of your trademark. IP Australia is responsible for administering intellectual property protection but does not enforce trademark rights. There are a number of ways in which you can search for potential infringements. These include using:
- Search Engines e.g. Google
- ASIC Business Name Database
- Australian Trade Mark Online Search System (ATMOSS)
Enforcing Your Trademark
If you happen to come across a company who is exploiting your trademark, you can take action to enforce your rights. A Cease and Desist Letter is a document that directs someone who is unlawfully using your brand to stop doing so. Allowing a competitor to use elements of your brand for their benefit can be detrimental to your business. Consumers may be misled into thinking that the products or services they are purchasing are actually yours. This is a cost effective and efficient way to enforce your legal rights and protect your brand.
Copyright protection is free and applies automatically from the moment a piece of work is written or recorded in some form. Therefore, there is no formal registration process or system. Copyright covers the following material:
- Literary Works – Content in written form, articles, blogs, source code etc.
- Artistic Works – Visual content, photos, illustrations, logos, charts etc.
- Cinematograph Films – Videos/Animation
- Sound Recordings/Musical Works – songs, podcasts, music scores etc.
- Compilations – Tables of words and symbols
This protection will give you grounds to take legal action if you feel someone is infringing upon your copyright. It is up to you as the copyright owner to identify any infringements and take subsequent action. There is no authority or organisation that will investigate potential copyright breaches for you.
As a business operating in commercial markets, your brand will be handled by a range of third parties such as manufacturers, distributors and franchisees. As a result, these entities may have access to information that you want to remain confidential. A non-disclosure agreement protects your information by having all parties agree to not disclosure or share anything which is stipulated in the agreement.
Taking these steps will ensure that your brand and the value attached to it are protected against potential exploitation. They provide you with the legal basis to take action against anyone seeking to cause damage. It is important to consistently monitor for breaches after you implement these protections.
About the Author
LawPath is Australia’s leading provider of online legal services for businesses and individuals, providing technology powered legal solutions at a fraction of the time, cost and complexity of the traditional system.
Author: Christopher Tsiknas – Marketing Coordinator at LawPath