Clients often make the mistake of thinking their registered Business Name or Company Name gives them the exclusive right to use that name in the marketplace. The truth is that whilst your registered Business Name or Company Name will protect your interests in that name to an extent, a registered trade mark will offer a far greater array of protection to not only your name, but your brand as a whole.
What is a Trademark?
A trade mark is a right that is granted for a letter, number, word, phrase, sound, smell, shape, logo, picture and/or aspect of packaging. A registered trade mark is legally enforceable and gives you the exclusive right to commercially use, licence or sell the trademark in relation to the goods and services that it is registered under.
As we saw earlier this week, Swiss railway operator SBB has struck a deal with Apple for the use of SBB’s trademarked station clock design. SBB had previously launched a considerable claim against Apple given the similarity between SBB’s clock and the clock design used on Apple’s new iPhone5 operating system. Each of the clock designs appear below, and the similarities are quite evident:
SBB had the foresight to trademark their station clock design a number of years ago. It would seem this made all the difference in the end given a license agreement was eventually struck between the parties for Google to continue using the design, but only by paying an undisclosed license fee for that use.
What are the implications for your business?
The moral of the story is that if your brand is worth value to your business, it is worth protecting. But just because your intellectual property is registered doesn’t mean it can’t be copied unlawfully.
Your rights won’t enforce themselves and need to be rigorously defended, in Court if necessary, if your intellectual property has been exploited by a third party.
Please contact me if you have any questions in relation to registering your brand as a trademark.