IP is important for your brand. Seriously, it is. "Intellectual property" may sound like a boring legal concept that only matters to big corporations with fancy lawyers, but the truth is, it affects businesses of all sizes and industries.
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), global trademark filings have been increasing every year, with over 10 million applications filed in 2019 alone.
But you may be thinking why go through all the legal hassle? Can't we just rely on the awesome products or services to speak for themselves? Well, sure, you can. But, what happens when someone else starts using a similar name or logo to market their inferior products or services? Suddenly, your customers might start confusing your brand with theirs, or worse, associating your brand with low-quality or shady practices. In fact, 35% of consumers have accidentally purchased a counterfeit product online, and 45% of them reported being dissatisfied with the experience. That's not good news for your brand's reputation.
That’s why we'll discuss why IP is important for your brand and how you can leverage it to your advantage.
What is Intellectual Property?
Before we dive into why IP is important for your brand, let's define what it is. Intellectual property refers to the legal rights that protect intangible assets, such as inventions, creative works, and branding, from unauthorized use or exploitation by others. There are five main categories of IP: trademarks, patents, copyrights, and trade secrets.
Trademarks: A trademark is a symbol, word, or phrase that identifies and distinguishes your brand or product from others in the marketplace. Registering a trademark with the appropriate government agency can provide legal protection against infringement and give you exclusive rights to use the mark in your industry.
Patents: Patents protect inventions and innovations that are novel, non-obvious, and useful. Obtaining a patent can give you a competitive advantage in your industry and prevent others from making, using, selling, or importing your invention without your permission.
Copyrights: Copyrights protect original works of authorship, such as literary, artistic, musical, or dramatic works. Registering a copyright can provide legal protection against unauthorized reproduction, distribution, or performance of your work.
Trade secrets: Trade secrets are confidential business information that gives you a competitive advantage, such as formulas, processes, or customer lists. Protecting your trade secrets can prevent competitors from gaining access to your valuable business information.
Licensing: Licensing your IP can allow you to generate revenue from your intangible assets, by granting others the right to use your trademark, patent, or copyright for a fee.
Why is IP important for your brand?
IP protection is crucial for maintaining the value and reputation of your brand. Here are some reasons why:
Prevents infringement and confusion
Registering your trademark with the appropriate government agency can establish your exclusive right to use the mark in your industry. This can prevent others from infringing on your brand and confusing your customers. According to a study by the OECD, counterfeit and pirated goods have been estimated to be worth $3 trillion by 2022. IP protection can help you avoid becoming a victim of this illegal activity.
Provides a competitive advantage
Patenting your innovative products or processes can give you a competitive edge in your industry. It can prevent others from copying or stealing your ideas and potentially license them for profit.
Increases brand value
IP protection can increase the value of your brand. A trademark, for example, can be an important asset for your business, representing the goodwill and reputation that you have built with your customers. In a study by Brand Finance, the world's 500 most valuable brands were worth a total of $7.1 trillion in 2021.
How can you leverage IP for your brand?
Now that you understand why IP is important for your brand, how can you leverage it to your advantage? Here are some tips:
Conduct a trademark search
Before you register your trademark, it's important to conduct a search to make sure it's not already being used by someone else. This can help you avoid potential legal issues down the road.
Register your IP
Register your IP with the appropriate government agency to establish your exclusive rights to use it in your industry. This can provide legal protection and deter others from infringing on your brand.
Enforce your rights
If you discover that someone is infringing on your IP rights, take action to enforce them. This can include sending a cease and desist letter, filing a lawsuit, or negotiating a settlement.
Licensing your IP can provide a new source of revenue for your business. By allowing others to use your trademark, patent, or copyright for a fee, you can generate income without sacrificing control over your IP.
IP is important for your brand, and it's worth investing the time and resources to protect it. Whether you're a startup or an established brand, IP protection can help you prevent infringement and confusion, gain a competitive advantage, and increase your brand value. So, make sure to conduct a trademark search, register your IP, enforce your rights, and consider licensing as you build and grow your brand.