Pro-active Brand Protection – Part 1

What is a brand?

A type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name. A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or other feature that distinguishes an organization or product from its rivals in the eyes of the customer. Branding is a set of marketing and communication methods that help to distinguish a company or products from competitors, aiming to create a lasting impression in the minds of customers. The key components that form a brand's toolbox include a brand’s identity, brand communication (such as by logos and trademarks), brand awareness, brand loyalty and various branding (brand management) strategies.

Why brand is very much important for corporates and industries?

If we look at brand/brand name, it’s nothing but the revenue generation model for any business house. Every brand carries immense value for brand owners e.g. Nike, Adidas, Hindustan Unilever, Audi, Mercedes-Benz etc. these brand names have created history and special value in the eyes of consumers. The brand name rules kingdom of consumers for long way and hence brand name is carrying immense value. Companies and industries always favour to invest huge money in the research and development processes, marketing campaigns, sales workshops, trainings and conferences, product launching campaigns, advertising etc.; but fail to understand the importance of product safety or intellectual property protection and brand protection.

Less priority to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection

The general perception of brands in India abut IPR protection is not of priority. Low awareness about Intellectual property has restricted Indian brands to reach global market as well as they restricted themselves to a particular level. Intellectual Property is there to strengthen the returns on your investment. Though the nature of intellectual property is intangible; its benefi ts are visible.

Why Pro-active approach?

The era of competition has reached the demanding level – at least a thousand minds are thinking on the same platform,millions of inventions are taking place at global level and billions of brand names are pouring the world of web. Hence registering and protecting intellectual property is must for all business houses. After all, brand protection is a process and not a one-time activity. To create impact via brand protection is the best and full proof solution.

Here are some of the pro-active measures to protect your brand:

Identify and register your Intellectual Property Rights:

Determine what intellectual property your business has by conducting an ‘Internal IP Audit’ to identify:

  1. Copyrights
  2. Trademarks
  3. Patents
  4. Trade Secrets

Conducting an Internal IP Audit Trademarks:

  1. Registered Marks
  2. Business Names
  3. Logos
  4. Slogans
  5. Domain Names
  6. Product Packaging/Confi guration
  7. Website Design

Copyrights:

  1. Registered Copyrights
  2. Written Materials
  3. Photographs
  4. Illustrations
  5. Computer Software
  6. Music/Film
  7. Website Content

Patents:

  1. Issued Patents
  2. Pending Applications
  3. Mechanical Devices
  4. Electronic Devices
  5. Medicine/Medical Devices
  6. Chemical Composition/Process
  7. Computer-based Business Process (Software)

Trade Secret Factors:

  1. Known outside of your business
  2. Known by those inside your business
  3. Measures to guard secrecy
  4. Value of the information
  5. Effort/cost in developing
  6. Easy to duplicate

Prioritize your IP:

  1. Cost vs. Benefit
  2. Offensive vs. Defensive Value

Implement measures to protect the IP that you have identified:

  1. Internal (inside your business)
  2. External (while dealing with 3rd parties)

Trade Secret Protection, Employee Policies:

Employee Manual - policy and procedures on treatment ofconfidential information regarding publications/speeches to prevent disclosure (i.e. trade secret review), submission of ideas, new patents (i.e. inventors’ notebook), exit interview.

  1. Non-Disclosure Agreement
  2. Non-Compete Agreement
  3. IP Assignment

Appoint a dedicated brand protection officer / brand protection manager:

We always pay special attention to special advises received from special people, then why not a special person to deal with IPR? This is a global trend, special IPR offi cer or a Brand Protection Manager take care of your all IPR related issues professionally or we can say in more organized way. Brand Protection is future of IPR, special appointment of Brand Protection Manager will result into impactful brand protection strategies and successful brand protection.

Create in-house Brand Protection Awareness:

Companies always failed to understand the need of awareness for internal human resources, they always pay attention for external awareness e.g. product packaging, awareness through campaigns for consumers, but we need to understand that our internal resources are our eyes and ears. We need to build a strong internal force to help the organization in protection brand. Appropriate trainings to internal employees, sales force, marketing teams, R & D teams etc. Employees and always strength to any organization, business houses should capitalize their talent and network. Going forward this internal employee strength will generate most valuable information in respect of IPR infringement and product infringement in the market.