WATCH OUT! HOW TO MAINTAIN YOUR TRADE MARK

Congratulations! Being a smart business owner, you managed to build your intellectual property portfolio and register your brand as a trade mark. By nurturing and maintaining the brand, you will turn it into a money-making machine, that drives cash into your pocket, even when you are retired.

As there is never a free lunch, hard work comes first. Building a reputation for the brand and protecting it along its way of success go hand in hand. Like a (brain)child that you raise, growing a brand means, you would like to ensure the well-being of your brand by looking after it and preventing it from damage to occur.

Now that your trade mark is registered, look it up in the trade mark register and be a proud parent. It is your responsibility to make sure your trade mark is kept current by paying the appropriate renewal fees every ten years and making changes to your trade mark if and when it is required.

There are a number of things to consider when it comes to using and maintaining your trade mark:

CHANGE ™ to an ® – YOUR BRAINCHILD HAS GROWN UP!

When using a brand name or logo as a badge of origin for your goods and services for the first time, this brand is still unregistered. You would like to ensure, everyone knows, that this brand name is the distinctive label for what makes your business world-class. So, you shall commence using it forthwith by placing an ™ in the upper right corner of the brand. This indicates, that the name is your brand and that it is still unregistered but in use. Changing the ™ to ® tells the public, that you are aware of your, now registered, trade mark rights and that you are able to defend your intangible asset. It is a bit like showing off a weapon.

KEEP IT UP TO DATE!

It goes without saying that it is your responsibility as trade mark owner, to ensure that the owner name and address details are still current, so the Trade Mark Office can notify you when it is time to renew your trade mark ten years after filing.

MAKE YOUR IP WORK FOR YOU!

You can turn your trade mark into a money making machine by commercialising it. This can be done in form of assignment of your mark, where you sell your monopoly rights in relation to the brand to a third party. However, it may be wise to keep ownership of the mark license it out to various parties, that are obtaining the right to use the trade for the respective goods and services. The license fee varies, depending on whether it is an exclusive or non-exclusive license and various other factors.

MONITOR YOUR MARK!

It is crucial to MONITOR your registered trade mark in order to be aware of what is going on in the market and to keep on top of new and existing trade marks being used in your industry.

Monitoring enables you to

  • Oppose the acceptance of another trade mark you think infringes upon yours.
  • Ensure your trade mark continues to be regarded as a trade mark. If your trade mark becomes known as the generic name for your goods or services a third party could have it cancelled through the courts.
  • Use your trade mark or risk losing it. If a registered trade mark is unused for three years it can be removed from the register. This will mean you could lose your right to that trade mark.

DEFEND INFRINGEMENTS AND DELUSION OF YOUR BRAND!

As soon as you are aware of an ongoing infringement or delusion of your mark, you must act immediately! Allowing others to use an identical or similar brand name for identical or similar goods or services, causes severe confusions in the marketplace and significantly decreases the value of your brand. It turns from a monopoly right to a commonly used descriptive term and means the death of your intangible asset. It may also mean that you are losing customers, as they may be deceived into believing your competitor, using a brand, similar to yours in sound spelling or meaning, is, in fact, your business. Instead of buying from you, your customers dealing with your competition. A nightmare that can be avoided easily.

KEEP UP THE GOOD SPIRITS AND CONTINUE BUILDING REPUTATION!

Earning the trust of customers is hard work. It even harder to keep up the high standards, so customers are trustful for decades to come. Focus on your business passion, knowing your nurtured brainchild protects you and provides you with an income stream, and protects you, even if you are already retired. Just like a real child of yours would do.

Remember, what you invest in a brand in its early years will be paid back to you many times at a later stage!