What is real
is not external form.”
An early part of the brand development process includes researching your competitors and comparing your brand against theirs. It’s possible that your business and its accompanying intellectual property share striking similarities to other brands in your industry, and these are important to consider when it comes to standing out within your field. When you’ve completed your research and you’ve begun the process of registering your brand’s trademarks, you’ll be prompted to select a specific classification.
Sometimes, brands have similar, recognizable names but do not exist within the same classification. However, if your brand has a similar name as a competing brand within the same classification, you may be infringing on a trademark that already exists.
Arming your brand with protection can offer numerous advantages in the long run. Trademarks can boost your brand’s overall status and image, as it communicates a certain level of authority. Consumers can establish deeper trust with a brand that can boast such expertise and status. Trademarking can also be a tremendous help when attracting investors, as it shows your commitment to protecting your company’s assets. But the internet has made it easier for copycats to move faster and infringe on intellectual property, simply by accessing your content and copying it or taking it as their own with a few simple clicks. If your business operates within the digital realm (particularly if your business is retail), protecting your brand is paramount.
Moving your business online presents a potential gap in protection that makes your brand vulnerable to infringement as technology and access evolve. Take, for example, a company that’s been producing disinfectant products for years. When they first trademarked their products, they weren’t selling them online, so they classified their products in Nice Class 3 (which protects cleaning and cosmetic products). Their business grew over time, and they recently expanded their sales channels to include online retail. But they neglected to protect their brand under Nice Class 35 (which classifies and protects items related to online retail and wholesale), and it left their products vulnerable to infringement. While the company believed their brand was protected from copycats and patent theft because of their initial Nice Class 3 protection, their failure to protect their products under Nice Class 35 drew the attention of malicious third parties who were able to create near-identical products, profit from their years of growth, and block the company from further developing their business.
In the wake of COVID-19, many companies have rushed to migrate their retail online and open up virtual stores. Those stores can be accessed by almost anyone around the world, which means they’re in greater danger of brand and product infringement from third parties if they fail to protect themselves adequately. What’s more, brands must take action to specify the countries to which they offer their goods and services, as protection in one country is not the same as global protection.
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