You might have read about Dyson’s dispute with Hoover over bagless vacuum cleaners, Apple’s dispute with Proview over the ‘iPad’ name, or the court case where Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code was accused of copyright infringement.
Just for the big brands?
These cases are all aimed to achieve one thing- to protect innovations, and creations so that creators can benefit from what they produce. Often small businesses believe that IP protection is for the big brands- they have the money to take people to court, which small businesses just don’t have. For many SMEs the legal aspect of branding is therefore seen as an unnecessary expenditure, something to only turn to when the business takes off and can afford to litigate to defend its rights.
However, protecting your IP is not just for the big brands. Often cases involving copyright, trademark or patent do not need to be fought out in the courtroom and having IP rights can actually help businesses to avoid the need to go to court. And even in those times when court is unavoidable, small claims courts have now been created which makes it much cheaper and easier for small businesses to defend their intellectual property.
Additionally, the way IP works means that you need to pay attention to it early on in the creative process. It may be too late to wait till you have something worth protecting.
What should be taken from these high profile reported lawsuits is that Intellectual Property rights are valuable enough to be worth fighting over, so you need to pay attention to yours early on.
Some might view the cases involving the big brands as an example of bullying; as a company’s way to stifle competition, but really there must be some reason why they are spending such vast amounts of money to ensure that someone else does not misuse their brand name, or copy one of their patents and so on.
The Value of IP
Through the use of the law these big brands ensure they protect the distinctive brand elements they have created and that everyone else wants. That’s how they ensure they keep the exclusive elements to themselves. Dyson’s disappearing parts ad is a prime example of this, where it stated ‘some other machines may look similar but their performance is very different. If you want a Dyson, you need to buy a Dyson- our technology is patented and can’t be copied’.
It was because of Dyon’s understanding of IP and how to protect its inventions that Dyson was able to promote itself as being one of a kind- something truly unique. James Dyson learnt the hard way after his first invention the ‘Ball barrow’ was copied by his sales manager, and now fully appreciates the need to fully protect what he creates.
Understanding IP (Intellectual Property) adds far more value than a well-designed logo or website. What is the point of having a logo if you can’t use it because the name clashes with someone else’s trade mark?
The need to brand
In order to succeed it is important to create a brand- some way to distinguish yourself from the overcrowded marketplace of businesses vying customer attention. By using intellectual property law principles to make sure your name, the content you produce, and your products belong to you in a way which prevents competitors copying your best ideas you can ensure that you create a brand that draws people in, and continues to remain distinctive.
So for whatever business, big or small you need to be aware of not only the potential value of what you create, but also how to retain that value- so as to make your brand something strong and bullet proof.
If you want to learn more about how to effectively manage your valuable intellectual property buy Legally Branded, a bestselling book on Amazon which has already received a number of 5 star reviews. You can download a free chapter here.