As a young entrepreneur I quickly learnt that the more successful your business becomes, the more of a target it becomes.
Having recently come across an international clothing brand (with over 1 000 stores around the globe) mimicking one of our clothing brand designs during peak retail season, I feared the worst. How could a start-up brand like Dead Reckoning fight a giant from another league? Quite easily actually.
Because we like to do things the right way, Dead Reckoning had applied to the Trademarks office of South Africa to register a few of our slogans, designs and logos.
Did this cost money? Yes. Was it worth it? HELL YES!
After confronting the offending global giant about their infringement of our registered trademark slogan “Salty Sea Dog” I was pleasantly surprised (as a newbie to this sort of thing) to find that, after presenting my official trademark documents to their HQ in Australia, they immediately requested all stock of the particular item to be removed from all of their stores in South Africa within two days. WOW!
So for those of you out there who are building a brand, please don’t shrug off the importance of protecting it. If we had not protected our brand’s uniqueness, Dead Reckoning could well have been destroyed by big players.
Here is a beginner’s guide to protecting your brand through trademarking:
Know the difference between ™ and ® :
The difference between the two is somewhat similar to a copyright or a patent. Once a piece of art is painted or a written work is printed, for instance, it automatically receives copyright protection. In this same way, any new product with a distinctive and unique name can be considered to be trademarked, in the ™ sense at least. A company can put out a new line of boardshorts called “The Merv,” for example, complete with a hand drawn graphic of a sailor smoking a pipe. The graphic and the name “The Merv” would be considered a trademark, and the company could put the ™ designation on it immediately.
The problem with not registering a trademark, however, lies in the competitive nature of business. Another company could also produce boardshorts called “The Merv” or even “The Verv” and use a very similar graphic of a sailor smoking a pipe. While the first company may have some proof that their boardies were marketed first, they may not be able to prove infringement since they did not register the trademark with CIPC first.
A registered trademark, on the other hand, would provide the original company with much more legal protection. Once the trademark is fully processed by the CIPC or foreign trademark office, it can display the ®. The second company would have been able to research the CIPC archives to determine if their own suggested trademark were legally available. Since “The Merv” with the distinctive graphic would have appeared as registered, the second company would be compelled to select another name and design.
A trademark designated ™ is a notice to others that the product’s name and design are the exclusive property of the company, but a registered trademark ® provides notice that it has indeed been registered. Only a legally registered one can be represented by the ® symbol, and even then it must be renewed after a number of years to continue enjoying legal protection.
How to Get Your Brand Trademarked:
Don’t go at it alone. Most attorneys can assist you with this. We use Emslie Attorneys. They will take care of the entire process for you. Expect costs to be roughly between R4 500 and R10 000.
Use your trademark proudly. It shows that your business takes what they do seriously and that you have taken great pride in your services / product. Dead Reckoning prides itself on being different and by protecting that, we can assure our #DeadReck Crew that they are part of something unique, just like they are.
RESOURCES: http://www.cipc.co.za/ | http://www.cipro.gov.za/products_services/trademarks.asp |
Jono has a long and happy association with the CN&CO team and recently joined Purple Group as sales consultant in the Eastern Cape. While he’s not buying and selling stocks, Jono likes (loves!) spending time on his surfboard. He also founded and sells an awesome trademarked clothing range under the Dead Reckoning label. He is also the founder of the Movember EL team and Salty Hour.
Dead Reckoning is running a Valentine’s special … get 25% off all products until Sunday, 14 Feb 2016. Visit the Dead Reckoning website, place your oder and enter the promo code LOVE-DEADRECK to get your discount.
Follow @jonobruton and @deadreckcrew on Twitter.