Your brand identity is one of the most important assets of your business. Your brand helps consumers distinguish and identify it from others and if you have a reputation for creating high quality designs, services of products this reputation will accrue in your brand. Businesses spend a lot on branding, but it is essential to incorporate brand clearance and protection in to the development process.
In a series by Adam Turley, an IP lawyer with ACID Legal Affiliates McDaniel’s Law, Adam says, “Brand Clearance should be an essential element of any brand creation exercise. Failure to carry out brand clearance may result in infringing upon third party rights. Implications resulting from infringement can be far reaching and costly, but ultimately may result in:
- An injunction to prevent further use of the brand.
- Damages and costs liabilities.
Further costs would be incurred in rebranding, and all of the time and effort spent building that brand would be lost. It’s relatively easy to do but easy to forget and could cost you dearly.”
What is Brand Clearance? Quite simply, it is about due diligence and checks that need to be made before creating a new brand and/or new design range for which a trade mark is being used. For example, it could be a new furniture range and you want to add trade mark protection by registering the name or you could be a new start-up business or an existing business wanting to create additional brands.
Brand Clearance – Seeking expert advice to carry out a full trade mark search or other relevant clearance searches at the time the brand is created enables you to ensure the brand is available and free to use. This is absolutely essential if you are creating brand reputation, which will become key to your success as your brand grows.
ACID’s top tips
- Reduce exposure to future legal challenge by having a brand clearance policy. It pays by not putting the creator at risk from the consequences of expensive legal costs after a brand launch, without requisite checks.
- Use specialist trade mark lawyers, because they may discover something that you may not know about with a more sophisticated search
- Ensure that marketing teams work in close tangent with you trade mark advisor – creation can sometimes be at odds with what is already legally in place and brand clearance will mitigate those risks.
- Registering new designs make sense but do check that there are no existing designs which are too similar. ACID Legal Affiliates know their way around the UK, EU and global databases and they know easily what can and can’t be trade marked. These searches can include domain names.
- Once a risk assessment has taken place, it is a commercial decision to go ahead based on the facts provided, but you are in a better position having completed comprehensive brand clearance searches.
- As always, keeping a vigilant eye on your competitors in your field is essential and communicating any concerns to your legal advisors is essential.
Following brand clearance, protection is the next vital step in maintaining brand identity. Protecting a brand ensures the owner has a legal right to stop others from using the brand. A trade mark registration ensures the mark is exclusive to the owner.
And the good news is that a trade mark is a company asset which can increase in value over time. A registered trade mark will have a greater value than a brand which is not registered. Failure to protect the brand may result in exploitation, and damage, to the brand by the actions others.
Whilst owners may not have considered budgeting for brand clearance and protection, the benefits unequivocally outweigh the burden of cost, especially considering the amount businesses spend on creating a brand.
About McDaniel’s Law
McDaniel’s Law are a full service IP law firm offering advice and assistance on trade mark, design and patent registration, the commercial exploitation of intellectual property and dispute resolution in respect of infringement of your IP rights. McDaniel’s Law have been ACID affiliates for many years and have helped countless ACID members protect their creations and resolve their disputes. McDaniel’s Law can be reached by telephone on 0191 281 4000 or by email to email@example.com.