Read this ReputationUP guide and discover how to protect your trademark online. You will know, step by step, the method to preserve a brand or trade name.
What is trademark protection?
If you are an entrepreneur and you have decided to found your company, it is very likely that you have started with the choice of the name and the image that will represent it.
That is, you have chosen what your company brand will be.
Protecting your trademark is equivalent to protecting your reputation.
This is because the trademark is the means by which a customer recognizes your product or service and differentiates it from the competition.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines the word trademark as follows:
“A name or symbol on a product that shows it was made by a particular company, and that it cannot be used by other companies without permission”.
Sometimes the brand is confused with the logo.
In reality, the logo is only one of the parts that can make up a brand, that is, its graphic appearance.
How can I protect my brand?
In the United Kingdom exist a number of laws that protect the brands, within the framework of intellectual property.
This means that, to protect your brand, you must follow the precise steps regulated by law.
To be registered, the trademark must meet the following requirements:
Trademark registration allows you to use it exclusively.
As a result, it will be easier to take steps to improve your company’s reputation.
When it comes to brands and logos, we are in fact in the field of intellectual property.
In the European Union, this is regulated by the EUIPO.
Intellectual property is a central aspect of business management and its protection significantly affects a country’s GDP.
As read in the report prepared by the European Patent Office and the EUIPO, in 2019 industries with a high intensity of intellectual property rights generated almost 45% of the GDP of the EU.
How is a logo protected?
To protect a logo you must consider it as a figurative trademark and register it as such.
It is always preferable to register the mark as figurative, even if this does not strictly identify your mark.
This way, you can guarantee greater protection, since you will protect not only the written part (wordmark), but also the graphics and colors.
How to protect a web domain?
Cybercriminals are always looking for new domains to steal from people and organizations, then request a ransom or resell them to other entities.
This can lead to a reputational crisis, which can be difficult to manage.
Therefore, to protect your brand, start by protecting your domain name, which is the name under which your company is present on the web.
Here are some tips to get it right:
- Find a domain name that allows you to have adequate visibility on the net. It is the first aspect that every user notices;
- Choose a DMN according to your business, which is representative of what you offer, to give credibility to the brand;
- Use words that are easy to remember and write: avoid puns, definitions and numbers that are difficult to pronounce, because they confuse customers.
Another way to prevent cybersquatting is to purchase the available extensions.
The most common extension for a company is .com, but there are different types:
- Geographical: they provide information on the location of the company or on its geographical area of intervention (in Italy it is .it);
- Thematic: they indicate the nature of your business (.cafe in the case of a cafe, for example);
- Sectorial: inform the sector of interest of your brand. Some examples:
.org if the company does not have a business purpose;
.io if it is a web application;
.mobi if it is a site adapted to the mobile phone.
The more extensions you have, the safer your domain name will be and the less chance that others will use it.
Owning multiple domains is also a way for your business to be more visible to customers, who can find it even if they haven’t entered the exact address.
At the same time, to protect your brand, choose a reliable hosting provider.
How is a trademark registered and protected?
To register and protect your trademark, you must carry out preliminary actions:
- Make sure that the trademark complies with the law and has all the requirements;
- Verify that the trademark does not violate the rights of third parties and that it is new and does not confuse others;
- Choose the Nice Classification classes for which you want to protect the mark.
Once you have complied with those aspects, you can proceed with the registration.
- Access the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO);
- Click on Apply for a trademark;
- Then find and click on Initial application forms;
- On the new screen you need to choose between the TEAS Plus or TEAS Standard filling options;
- Once you know which one of them you need, you have to click on Start your application in TEAS, where you will be required to log in or register;
- Now that you’ve logged in, you need to enter all the information in the appropriate fields in the form, and follow the instructions given;
- Finally, you make the required payment, after which you will receive a confirmation email.
What does a trademark protect?
Registering your trademark prevents cybercriminals from stealing it.
One of the most common problems for brand owners, in fact, is being a victim of cybersquatting.
According to the definition given by the Oxford Dictionary, cybersquatting is:
“The illegal activity of buying and officially recording an address on the internet that is the name of an existing company or a well-known person, with the intention of selling it to the owner in order to make money.”
The theft of domains and brands, as well as their improper use, constantly increases the risk to your corporate reputation.
The Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) was created to fight against such computer crimes, and has since its foundation, dealt with more than 50,000 cases.
As can be seen in the report prepared by the EUIPO on cybersquatting, 49% of the analyzed domains were considered suspicious.
As can be seen in the infographic, of these domains, 55% were unused, 10% were for sale, while the remaining 35% were used for illegal activities, especially scams, phishing or malware distribution in general.
For greater and complete effectiveness, consider protecting your brand within a strategic online reputation management plan.
What is required to protect the trade name or a brand?
Registering a trade name or brand can be done in person or online.
If you are in the United Kingdom, you can do it online through the Intellectual Property Office’s website.
In the case that you are in the USA, it is also possible to register on the website of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
If you want to protect the trademark internationally, you must contact WIPO in Geneva (World Intellectual Property Organization).
Traders and commercial companies (e.g. SpA or Srl) are not required to register a name or a trademark.
In the United States, between 2018 and 2019, the number of registered international trademarks increased by 7%, according to data from the OEPM.
It’s actually a good thing to do because you prevent third parties from making harmful use of your business data.
It is also recommended to register the domain of the company website, in order to protect the digital reputation.
What is the protection time of a trademark?
Trademark protection is valid for 10 years.
After this period of time you will have to renew it.
They are quite simple procedures, but you can avoid them by relying on specialized companies.
Contact ReputationUP for the help of experts in online reputation management.
The team will accompany you throughout the protection and monitoring process, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Through the RepUP Monitoring Tool, you will also have the possibility to constantly monitor your brand thanks to a combined analysis of Big Data and IT.
In this guide, we show you everything you need to know to protect your brand: how to protect your brand, logo and web domain and why it is important to register a trademark.
Therefore, we can conclude that:
- The trademark is the means through which a customer recognizes your product or service and differentiates it from the competition;
- Trademark registration allows you to use it exclusively;
- The trademark and the logo are two different concepts, but both belong to the intellectual property right;
- It is important to protect the web domain to avoid cybersquatting attacks;
- Trademark protection is valid for 10 years and is renewable.
Protecting your brand is equivalent to protecting your reputation.
ReputationUP has all the tools to manage your digital reputation taking care of all aspects of the process.