It is never too soon to start planning your startup’s intellectual property strategy. IP rights are often considered as the most valuable asset of a company. Aphaia’s Vasiliki Antoniadou explores how startup trademark strategy should look like.
With Apple Brand reaching the 145 millions USD in value, there is no question of how prolific an intangible asset trademarks may become. However, a correct approach to trademarks from the first steps of the company is essential to guarantee success.
Trademarks may be traditionally words, logos, and signs or more unconventionally shapes, colours or sounds, bound to indicate the trade origin of goods or services. Some examples of famous trademarks constitute the word Google, the red sole of Louboutin shoes, the shape of Coca Cola bottle and the sound of Darth Vader breathing. Similarly to any other type of property, trademarks can be “sold”, “rented” or used as collateral. Notably, their unique characteristic that differentiates them and makes them more appealing in business is that their duration may be indefinite, as long as they are renewed and used.
Here are some key startup trademark strategy hints:
Pick your distinctive trademark
First comes the decision of which marks should be protected and developed. Usually, the name of the company and the logo are high on the priority list, since they distinguish the products and services of a company from that of another and link them with certain qualities that generate from the company. It is of utmost importance to avoid generic and descriptive marks, that are susceptible to opposition and cancellation actions.
Trademark clearance check
Before registering the preferred trademarks, due diligence should be made. The check aims to eliminate the risk of applying for a mark that is already owned by another entity and therefore easily opposed and rejected.
Choose the classes of products and services wisely
Trademarks are applied in relation to specific categories of products and services. No matter how enticing it is to apply for every possible class, it should be kept in mind that if the trademarks and not used in the registered classes can be invalidated.
Where to file the trademark application?
Intellectual Property rights are national rights, meaning that they should be acquired in each country separately. Exception on this rule are the EU trademarks, that are valid throughout European Union, and the WIPO trademarks, that designate various countries. At this point it is pertinent to reflect on the countries that the startup is or is shortly going to be active in.
When the trademark is successfully registered, a company should stay vigilant against potential infringements via unauthorised use of the mark. In practice warning letters are sent to the infringes in order to inform them of the registered right and ask them to cease and desist the infringement. Moreover, oppositions against confusingly similar trademarks applied for registration by another entity belongs to the tools of the trademark holder.
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