“The key to getting rich (and staying that way) is to avoid doing stupid things”.
I notice people’s tendency to freely spend on magic pills, secret formulas, and financial tooth fairies as Cunningham describes them while postponing or overlooking obvious steps to protect their business. People want to buy things that promise them a way to make money, but something like ownership of intangible assets that will secure the foundations of their business is neglected. It’s boring intellectual property which they don’t even want to take the time to understand, let alone secure and protect.
Trade mark registration and brand protection are basic first steps to take, there is no sense in postponing or putting this off, and I’d suggest that anyone looking to think better should revisit this subject with an open mind
But do note Maynard Keys’ observation that “Most people, when confronted with a choice of changing their thoughts or proving there is no need to change, get busy on the proof.”
Trademark Registration and Brand Protection
I have just spent a few thousand pounds extending my Brand Tuned UK trademark registration to the EU and USA.
You may wonder why I would bother to do this. The name is nothing particularly special, the brand name is not generating any money for the Azrights business as yet, and we’re on the cusp of a serious world recession, so nobody wants to be throwing money around.
However, it’s a name I’ve checked is available to me to use and I want to secure my rights in it. It might be worth explaining my thinking in case it helps you to make decisions for your business.
I’ve seen how much inconvenience, hassle and expense people go through when they don’t take this basic step of protecting the brand name they’re using in key markets for their plans.
As a general rule, it costs ten times as much to deal with the complications that can arise when you don’t protect your name than the cost of registering the name in the first place
Names and trademark registration are very similar to the ownership of physical property and should be thought of in the same way.
If you simply squat on land on which you are developing properties and don’t secure ownership of the legal title, your tenure would be insecure. You could have the rights taken away from you or otherwise lose them. Someone else or events outside your control might shatter your peace and enjoyment of your property. Do you want to risk that with your brand?
Who wants to pay stamp duty and solicitors’ fees that are part and parcel of transferring the title to land? Given the choice, I reckon many people would postpone this cost and avoid the expense of acquisition. However, they go through the buying process with physical property largely because they understand that it’s a necessary aspect of owning land, of building on the land, and developing their life or business around ownership of that land.
While the same applies to names that we use in business, this is less well appreciated.
The first step is to secure rights in a name by registering a trade mark in your home market. If you simply use a name without registering it, then you set yourself up for costly litigation if someone else also starts using the name or registers the same or a similar name first, making it difficult for you to co-exist.
While people commonly register their own trade marks, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you take a lot of time to understand how to do it properly. In the same way, I wouldn’t recommend registering your land yourself even though it’s as seemingly straightforward to do so now that we have the land registry system in place for physical property.
Cost of Ownership
If you use an experienced lawyer to do the work for you, the total cost might be £1,000-£2,000 including official fees (that is, the equivalent of stamp duty) in the UK. You could save on legal fees and just pay the official fees (stamp duty). However, based on the number of poorly registered trademarks I’ve seen, it’s not worth the saving to do your own registration. Ultimately, you want a piece of paper you can rely on when it comes to enforcing your rights in your name, not just a piece of paper.
The trademark registries in all the countries worldwide are online and make it seemingly easy to register your rights yourself, but if you want to be properly protected get the best lawyer you can afford to do the drafting and scoping of your trademark for you. Just accept it as the price of owning your brand name.
That first registration gives you 6 months’ protection worldwide meaning you get priority protection in most countries provided you go on to extend your registration to your chosen markets worldwide within this 6-month window.
I had registered Brand Tuned in the UK, and the 6 months’ time window expired on 14 June to extend that protection to other countries of my choice worldwide.