A well-protected brand can be a business’ most valuable asset, and there are plenty of ways to prevent it from being exploited domestically.
However, as your reputation grows, it is important to consider how effectively your brand is shielded in other markets.
Here is a look at why this matters and what you can do to stop third parties from infringing upon or subverting your brand internationally.
What does brand protection look like?
The term ‘brand’ is fairly all-encompassing, and can cover everything from the name of your business to the design of your logo and even the colors which are associated with your products and services.
Varying levels of protection are available according to which aspect of your brand you are looking to protect. This includes things like copyright and trademark registration, as well as patents.
The main purpose of brand protection is to ensure that the aspects of your business which make it identifiable, unique and distinct from the competition cannot be copied or interfered with. If problems do arise, the steps you have taken to protect your brand will give you recourse to seek compensation and halt further mischief through various legal channels.
What are the benefits of registering your trademarks internationally?
The power of global trademark registration should not be underestimated. By going through the process of applying for protection via bodies like the World Intellectual Property Organization, the major features of your brand will be enshrined on an international basis, not just in the country where your operations are based.
A trademark can be the name of a business, product or service. It can also be the logo or symbol used as part of your branding efforts. You can even trademark phrases and taglines, which is useful for marketing purposes.
Without a trademark, anyone could make use of these properties without permission and without paying licensing fees. With an internationally registered trademark, the likelihood of such a situation occurring is reduced, and you can act if infringement does occur.
Intellectual property protection and copyrights
Copyright works differently to trademark legislation, in that it applies to creative works that include everything from books, films and the characters they contain, to software and industrial designs.
In most places, copyright laws are enforced automatically from the moment that a work is produced. However, like trademarks, this basic level of protection is not always ideal for businesses, since if infringement or outright piracy takes place, proving your ownership can be difficult.
This is why it is sensible for companies to register copyrights with the relevant authorities, both domestically and internationally. There are different bodies in various countries and regions that handle this, and also organizations that are set up specifically to streamline this process for clients.
Likewise your IP is protected in part by international copyright treaties, although it is still better not to rely on the innate coverage which such agreements provide.
Domain name protection
Another area in which your brand can be compromised either accidentally or deliberately is that of online domain names. You might own a domain name associated with a particular region, but if someone else registers a site using your branding or trademarks, the chances of customers being confused or even outright scammed increases.
Being proactive is once again advisable. If you are going to have an international presence, registering for branded domains in lots of regions, and even having these domains redirect visitors to your main site, is sensible.
How to protect your brand globally
Ultimately international brand protection is all about preempting problems before they occur by registering trademarks, copyrightable creations and domain names as soon as possible.
Once this is done, the next step is to be vigilant for any infringement of your brand in the markets you are targeting, and to harness the legal protections available to you as required.