More people change their job in January than in any other month of the year. Perhaps January is the kick up the backside we all need?
The Global Entrepreneurship Index states that the UK is the most entrepreneurial country in Europe – so if you produce brilliant brownies or you have a cool craft business, why not take the plunge, now’s the time to do something about it.
Of course, there is a huge amount to consider when launching your new business. Before you think about the glamour, glitz and the excitement of selling the product, you must take steps to protect your brand. According to Bloomberg 80% of entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within 18 months, so don’t let yours be one of them.
Below are key considerations to strengthen and enhance your brand, whilst ensuring you don’t infringe someone else’s rights but also don’t have legal action taken against you!
New Business Tips to help protect your brand:
1) Pick a unique and distinctive brand name
Thought we’d blow our own trumpet on this one. ‘Back Four’ is a defensive formation in football. Our company ‘Back Four’ defend football clubs from counterfeiting and brand abuse. So the company name ‘Back Four’ was born. Clever eh?
Jot down all your ideas and conduct your own online searches as a starting point. Do this across the web and social media. Check each social media channel to make sure that no one else is using that name already.
2) Appoint the services of a trademark attorney
If you have an idea, or you’ve created something, you’ll need to protect this and that’s where intellectual property (IP), such as trade marks, copyright, design rights and patents are essential. Trade mark attorneys are the experts when it comes to all things IP, so be sure to get one on board!
They’ll simplify things for you and provide a sounding board. They’ll also save you a huge amount of time and money and allow you to focus on other areas of your business. Yes, there are legal fees, but these don’t have to be astronomical and they will save you far more, than going it alone.
Andrew Hayton, owner of Urban Celebrity and 11 Degrees worked closely with a TM attorney from launch of his businesses. ‘Meet regularly with your trade mark attorney and take their advice. They will help your brand to navigate this complex area and save you money.’
You wouldn’t do your own dental work – so make sure you see professionals in this area.
3) Conduct a thorough IP search as early as possible
Your trade mark attorney should do this, although you can also conduct your own online searches on the World Intellectual Property Office website (www.wipo.int) to see who owns what.
Michael Douglas, a partner at Wilson Gunn Patent & Trade Mark Attorneys (www.wilsongunn.com) states, “Early searching is the best advice here. That way you know early on if there are any potential issues and if not, you can build a brand on a solid platform.”
Whilst your trademark attorney is doing that, make sure you grab the relevant domain names and social media handles you need.
Domain Names – There are many domain purchasing websites out there, but make sure you choose a reputable one and get in there quick!
Social Media – We’d suggest securing your brand name on all the key social channels, even if you won’t be using them straightaway. You don’t want a battle later down the line if someone else has your brand name.
4) Register your IP
IP is essential to your business and enables you to ring fence your idea. As well as being able to generate income and set you apart from competitors, this will also allow you to defend against counterfeiters and brand abuse.
Registering your IP will cost, so be sensible with budget, but be sure to own something! To begin register your brand in the UK for the main product category your offer. Then if budget allows why not expand to cover the other key territories and products categories.
If you’ve had a logo designed for you, make sure you have copyright assigned! Even if it’s a friend who’s designed the logo, they’ll own it until you have the copyright assigned. Do it now to avoid issues further down the line.
5) Take advice, Utilise Support and Learn
The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is a fantastic resource for support and advice, so be sure to check out their website (www.ipo.gov.uk) and attend their free courses and workshops for new businesses and entrepreneurs.
6) Review and re-evaluate
This shouldn’t be a one-off exercise. Brand protection should be a crucial component of your business’ strategy. As your brand grows and potentially diversifies, regularly make sure you have adequate protection in place to enhance and defend your brand.
Tweet us @backfourbp if you have any more questions. We’d love to help and see you launch a successful new business and kick the January blues!
This blog article is intended to be general information and nothing in this blog constitutes legal advice.