According to Investopedia, the term trademark refers to a recognizable insignia, phrase, word, or symbol that denotes a specific product and legally differentiates it from all other products of its kind.[i] It allows customers to identify a business as the source of a product or service.
It is important to note that the earlier you secure ownership of your brand name by trademarking it, the better! Why? Because a trademarked brand name is the most valuable intangible asset of any brand/company. Trademarking is not only applicable to tradenames, but it also includes symbols, marks, slogans, and combinations of words, amongst other things, that can identify a business, commercial entity, or organization.
In this era of branding and internet marketing, every brand sells as much as its identity. This is premised on the fact that the market values a product based on the perception and the level of trust built by the brand over the years. Therefore, every brand leverages the trust it has built since its emergence to make huge sales daily, and it is on such a basis that the registration of a brand name as a trademark is highly recommended.
In simple terms, registering your brand name as a trademark is the most secure way to give your brand legal protection against competitors and third parties, as well as prevent competition from usurping the market credibility your brand has built since it was established.
The importance, benefits, and gains of trademarking your brand name can never be over-emphasized, and it will be addressed in this article as well as the dangers involved in losing out on this opportunity to have your brand name trademarked.
Read also: Obligations of Manufacturers/Vendors of goods and Services in a Commercial Transaction.
DANGERS OF NOT TRADEMARKING YOUR BRAND NAME.
Registering your brand name as a trademark is not mandatory. However, there are several risks in leaving your brand legally unprotected.
According to Digip, there are approximately 7 million brands applying for trademark registration which translates to almost 20,000 brand registrations per day.[ii]
As mentioned above, the competition for brand registration is global and fierce. It is more important than ever to register your trademark, so you can prevent your brand from being exposed to legal problems in the future.
Where someone proceeds to register your brand name in the instance where one has been carrying out a business with a brand but failed to register same, they might own it irrespective of the fact that you had used it prior to the registration. You could try to reclaim it, but the cost of resolving the issue will probably stop your growth plan. In extreme cases, it can put you out of business. Hence, it is crucial to stake your claim and own the exclusive rights to your brand name immediately.
IMPORTANCE OF TRADEMARKING YOUR BRAND NAME.
The importance, benefits, and advantages of trademarking a brand name can never be overemphasized, especially if there are plans to build an outstanding brand on a global scale with an international, national, and online presence.
The importance of trademarking a brand name is myriads, and some are worthy of mention, namely:
1. Exclusivity of rights to the brand name
By registering your brand name as a trademark, no one can copy such a name without your permission. By implication, your brand ensures monopoly of every benefit that comes with its name as it relates to marketing its products and overall communication reasons.
In addition to the above, your brand will be entitled to preferred treatment in Domain Names disputes. As the importance of online presence is growing rapidly, it is very important to register your brand name as a trademark, as it will inevitably come in handy in the nearest future.
The marketplace is crowded, and it is hard to distinguish your business from your competitors. Your brand name could be the critical factor in driving a customer’s purchase decision, and that is why trademarking your brand name is an efficient commercial tool to capture the attention of your clients and potential clients and, of course, make your business, products, and services stand out.
Clients viewing your brand name immediately know who they are dealing with, and the reputation of your brand and are less likely to look for alternatives.
3. Entitlement to damages for Trademark Infringement
By registering your brand mark as a trademark, competitors and third parties are barred from exploring it in their marketing campaigns, often with a negative connotation. Therefore, if anyone misuses your brand name, you will be entitled to sue for damages.
4. Guaranteed Protection of Your Brand’s Trade Name:
Incorporating a company at the Corporate Affairs Commission (“CAC“) only prevents other persons from registering a business with a similar name to yours. It does not guarantee the protection of the intellectual property in the name. This is why it is important for you to register the trademark of your brand name so as to protect the intellectual property in the unique product associated with your brand/product from your direct competitors offering similar products/services/offerings, especially where your business/brand is known for its unique products/offerings.
5. Lifetime Guarantee of Brand Name Ownership:
If you do not own the registered trademark rights of your brand name, someone else might stop you from using it.
Losing a brand can cost everything in a company because you would be losing the intangible assets that support the place you have in the market. That means your customer’s trust, which oftentimes is extremely hard to get back.
One of the benefits of trademark registration is that you can be certain this case will never occur.
6. You can avoid expensive rebranding
Without legal brand protection, another company can register the brand name before you do. If that is the case, it is quite easy for them to penalize you for using the protected brand. Finally, you will be forced to rebrand, losing a lot of what your business strategy has conquered so far.
Often, rebranding can make customers confused. That only gets worse when you have to build a whole new image for your company. And, as you may know, confused customers mean much fewer sales conversions.
Therefore, it is important to register your brand name as a trademark to avoid costly rebranding and customer confusion.
7. Legal Protection of your brand’s most valuable asset
A brand name is often the most valuable asset of any brand though intangible. This is the way your target market will tell you apart from your competitors. Also, this is the asset that will become the repository of your market trust and serve as the emblem of your business growth and consolidation. Therefore, it is very important to register your brand name as a trademark.
8. A Source of Additional Revenue to Your Business:
A registered trademark can be assigned or licensed to third parties for a fee. This will create additional revenue for your business. Registration of a trademark allows agents of your business to use its name or logo legitimately, especially if your business is planning to expand through franchising.
9. International Registration
Although Nigeria is not a signatory to any treaty which makes trademarks registered in Nigeria to be automatically deemed registered in member countries, usage and registration of trademarks in Nigeria give the trademark preference for registration in other countries.
10. Requirement to Obtain Operation License
Trademark registration is a requirement to obtain an operating license in some sectors in Nigeria, and it is, therefore, imperative for your brand name to be registered as a trading name to facilitate the obtaining/acquisition of such permits/licenses when necessary.
11. Indefinite Lifespan
Registered trademarks have an indefinite lifespan, this means they do not expire. However, they have to be renewed after a period of seven (7) years, and there are no limits to renewals.
Registering your brand name as a trademark is a crucial step every business owner is advised to make now to prevent great issues and losses in the future.
For a small fee, you get peace of mind and a lifetime exclusive right to all the value attached to your brand name; exclusiveness of use, legal protection on your brand, and even preference to resolve disputes on domain names, amongst others.
[i]Carla Tardi, Trademark https://www.investopedia.com/terms/t/trademark.asp#:~:text=The%20term%20trademark%20refers%20to,company’s%20ownership%20of%20the%20brand. Accessed March 1, 2023
[ii] Viktor Johansson, Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Trademark Your Brand https://www.digip.com/en/blog/post/top-5-reasons-why-you-should-trademark-your-brand Accessed March 1, 2023
Written by Utang Asuquo for The Trusted Advisors
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