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Securing Your Business' Future

Securing Your Business' Future

What is your ultimate aspiration in business? How will you achieve those aims? And how do you know when to act on information you glean on social media or via podcasts, or books?  

People have assumptions around trademarks and names which impede their success. I’ll  highlight some of them here to change your perceptions and actions.   

Many assumptions about trademarks, like other ideas that gain traction in society are either inappropriate or just plain wrong for some situations. So, examining ideas to assess whether they’re right for your circumstances before acting on them is a habit to cultivate.  

For example, I was inspired by a podcast to consider sending my customers thoughtful gifts to delight and surprise them. However, when I explored the idea critically I decided to abandon the idea for reasons outlined here and here and also because everything has an opportunity cost.  

As it’s so important to take the right actions when it comes to names and trademarks, I’ve released some short one-minute videos on LinkedIn to quickly convey some thoughts that address misconceptions.  

Firstly, as your name is the single most important business design decision you make it’s crucial to include trademark advice in the mix when you’re choosing a new name because the legal aspects of naming is surprisingly complex.

Not appreciating how to check whether a desired name is available means trademark infringement is rising year on year.

When you infringe on a third party’s trademark it might be a nuisance or if you’re in a situation such as Scrabulous it could be catastrophic.

Choosing a name that was similar to that of a well-known brand was Scrabulous’s first mistake. Had the company avoided making a second mistake, it might have averted disaster.

Like many businesses, Scrabulous assumed it was a good idea to do their own trademark registration because it appears deceptively easy to do so. But you often miss out in various ways when you don’t enlist expert support.

In Scrabulous’ case engaging lawyers would have alerted it to the fact that it was a problem to use a similar name to a famous brand like Scrabble. They would have been guided to choose a new name and quietly rebrand. Scrabble need never have found out that the brothers had ridden on its coat tails to achieve success. The business would have maintained its position as market leader, instead of losing it to Words With Friends which Zynga launched when Scrabulous was taken down. 

If you take the security of your brand and IP with the same seriousness that you take your website security and physical business's security, you’d understand why trademark registration should be regarded as a cost of doing business rather than as optional. 

While it's true that you don’t have to trademark a name to use it, that doesn’t mean it’s sensible NOT to register the name you’re building your brand around. Trademark registration is the way to claim rights over a name, not domain or company registration.

Often two businesses start up around the same time using similar names and neither registers a trademark. This can lead to expensive disputes, years down the line. Trying to prove you used a name first is an expensive argument to win.

So, why squat on a name instead of securing legal title over it? Your name IS your brand. Everything you do in business is designed to make it famous, so it makes sense to protect it not just in the UK but also internationally in your main markets.

Whether your ultimate aspiration is to sell your business for a life changing sum, or to make a comfortable living, I hope you’ll appreciate the crucial role of trademarks to your success.