In the beggining of a start-up, there are dozens of fronts to pay attention. That fact makes an essential aspect left aside: the strategy to protect the innovative essence of the company. When we mention this essence, we mean the intellectual property intangibles such as the trademark, business secrets, designs or patents.
If we focus on the trademark, we are talking about the distinctive sign which identifies and condenses the business effort to differentiate itself from the competition. Shielding a trademark with proper protection is especially important for start-ups because they are sensitive when it comes to achieving a good brand positioning and the guarantees that potential investors usually demand. However, since it is not mandatory to register the trademark to be able to use it, the registration process is often postponed to a later phase, which sometimes does not even arrive. When this happens, it is essential to remember that only through registration the owner grants the exclusive right of use and the prohibition of third parties to do so.
Much more than protecting a name
By registering a trademark, we protect the brand against third parties. But there is much more. The brand as an intangible asset also has an equity value that, at any given time, could be assigned or given as a guarantee. In other words, registering the brand and having control over its use is not only a way to defend oneself or avoid conflicts, it also implies an investment in an asset that can be monetized. In addition, the current Trademark Law allows many options of signs when registering a trademark, from sounds or patterns to movements.
It is also necessary to remark the scope of action that the company will have, since the protection strategy for the trademark depending on the affected geographical areas.
And within the protection strategy, there is another service to highllight: surveillance of the trademark once registered. The defense of a registered sign depends on its owner, who carries the duty to monitor that identical or similar trademarks to its own are not registered in its market and, where appropriate, take actions to avoid it. Although it may seem like something that does not happen regularly, the reality is that it is something more common than many would like. Without going any further, it is a conflict that Rolex has recently encountered against Oyster & Pop, who is being asked to change the entire brand because its name is too similar to that of one of the Rolex products: the Oyster Perpetual.
At PONTI & PARTNERS, we help start-ups and emerging companies that are concerned about their intangible assets. In addition, we participate in the strategy to protect their innovation.
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