Register And Protect Your Brand

 

 Common mistakes that you should not make when registering your trademark and some ways how to protect it at the lowest cost are discussed below. 

Protect Your Brand 

When creating a startup, the product is often put ahead and the brand is neglected. In deciding the name itself to be used and in its legal protection. Many times whoever does the registration of the trademark is a friend, an employee or one of the partners, it doesn't matter. They are people who at a given moment can leave the company, take the brand and leave us with nothing. This is how your brand is protected. 

Brand, trade name and company name 

Entrepreneurs often register the business name, and not the brand with which they are not really protecting that distinction of their products or services. The commercial name is the name that the company uses in commercial traffic for its relationship with other companies. It is not even the company name. The company name is the name given to the company at the commercial register level which is something else. 

The brand does not have to coincide with the commercial name and the company name. But the only element of those three that allows you to distinguish your products or services is the brand. In fact, the commercial name does not exist. 

Notice how little importance it has that in many countries it does not exist. The main right granted by the registered trademark is that it prohibits third parties from using it for similar products or services and that it can lead to confusion. In this way, it is avoided that a company can take advantage of the reputation of others or the distinctive image of another. And it also prevents them from misusing your brand and deteriorating it, discrediting it. 

Registration 

When you are going to register your trademark, you have to be clear about three things: the type of trademark you are going to choose, what you are going to use it for and where you are going to use it. 

Brand type 

 There are brands that are denominative, that are simply words, without graphic characteristics, or color or anything. Others that are figurative: images and graphic elements. There are also mixed brands, which have a word and a graphic element. And then there are slightly different marks, such as sound marks, which are a combination of sounds, three-dimensional marks, etc. The most typical are the denominative and the figurative and we always recommend having at least and as soon as possible the word mark because when projects are starting, the normal thing is that the name of the product or service does not change over time, or changes much less, but the logo does evolve, it adapts to trends, to the new brand image that you want to give, to feedback from customers. 

So, 'we recommend registering the word mark, on the one hand, and if you are interested in registering the logo as well, register it separately as a figurative mark. And go working with these two types of brand. We never recommend the mixed brand, because if you change the logo you have to make a new registration. Nor do we recommend including colors in the registry, because that way they can use the color they want as the background changes. 

Use of the trademark 

In what products and services are you going to use your brand? Trademarks are registered by class. There is a classification called Nice that divides products and services into 45 categories, 34 products and 11 services, which describes what is protected in each class, the type of products and services in each of the classes. It is a harmonized classification in all EU offices. 

To choose the class in which the entrepreneur wants to register his trademark, we recommend using the search engine of the Trademark Office, seeking a balance between thinking big and being realistic. That is, it is advisable to protect not only the classes that I am using, but also those that I think I will use in the short term. If I'm selling clothes now but I think I'm going to sell hats too, include it. They are different classes, but if a brand is not used it is always more vulnerable to third-party attacks. From the fifth year since I have registered it, if I do not use it and someone wants to register it, they will take it away from me because I will not be able to protect myself. You have to find that balance. 

Protection countries 

Trademarks can be registered nationally in specific countries. In Spain, through the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office. At the European level, through Euipo, which protects the brand for all member states. And internationally, through WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) or Wipo. As such, there is no global brand. Protection is done by registering the trademark in a single file, to which countries are designated. If there is a country that is not in this treaty, you must go to register at the national level in that country. 

Here again the recommendation is to look at the medium term. What we recommend is not only to protect in the territorial space where we are now, but also where we intend to be in the short term. Although here it also depends on the level of development of each startup. If they are projects that have just been launched, we tell them to start with a national registry because many times they do not validate the business, or they pivot or modify the services they offer or even change the name because they realize that they do not reach the client. In the start phase, that they do not spend a lot of money, but in the traction and growth phase, that they already have the model validated, if the objective is to go to Europe in a year or two, they go directly to the European registry. 

What If My Brand Already Exists? 

In order to avoid legal conflicts and loss of time, before registering you should look at the free TM-view search engine. “It is a search engine that includes the trademarks registered in most of the national and international offices. Almost everything is there. They just have to put in the word they have chosen, the classes they want to go to and the territory they want to protect, both in the short and long term. 

Even if the trademark is only going to be registered at the national level now, you have to make sure that it doesn't exist in another country where you want to go later. If I can't go to Europe with my brand, because it already exists, I'm still interested in changing it sooner. In addition, it is advisable to include words that are similar or that are phonetically similar in the search. A real example: if I am going to register a project called Cynkus, the logical thing is Cinkus Cunkus, to make sure that there is nothing that is phonetically similar because otherwise they can be opposed. 

Procedures And Costs 

The registration can be done electronically or in person. And the presentation can be made directly by the interested party, that is, the entrepreneur or his legal representative. One thing that is important is that the applicant for the trademark can be a natural person or a company. We recommend that if the project already has a company incorporated, the company should be the applicant, because that way the asset will appear in the name of the company. 

In cases where entrepreneurs start without having the company incorporated, obviously they have to register it in their name, and what we always tell them is that it is very important that they contribute the brand to society, when they form the company they can contribute it As a non-monetary contribution, when you constitute the company, the minimum share capital is 3,000 Euros, in a limited company, since a part may be to contribute that brand that you already have previously registered. If they don't, we tell them to hand it over to the company because it is very important that the company owns all the assets and especially the brand, which is one of the most important assets the company has. 

It also happens to us all the editions that in the end there are many entrepreneurs who come with the registered trademark in the name of a partner, even in the name of a worker or collaborator. As long as they get along there is no problem, but the problem may come because the outings are not always friendly. If a partner leaves the company badly and the brand has it in his name, the company may have a problem. Always try to do things right and when errors are detected, correct them as soon as possible and not say I'll do it”. 

The cost varies depending on the number of classes I want to protect and the territorial scope. But it is not at all relevant if we take into account the damage that can cause not having a registered trademark or using a trademark that another has registered and that can ask me for compensation. 

The cost in Spain of the first class is about 150 Euros and you have a discount of 15% or 20% if you do it online. And then for each extra class you add it is about 90 Euros. With 250 Euros you have a mark for two classes, which is usual. Nor do people register a brand with six or seven classes. If you register it with all the classes, apart from the fact that it costs much more, you will have a global brand that no one can use it for anything. But hey, there the downside is that if you don't use it, because you're not going to sell all that kind of products and services, after five years, others will be able to oppose it and they will take it away. The logical thing is to register it with two, three or four classes. 

At the EU level, the first class, if you do it online is about 850 Euros, if you present it on paper, 1,000 Euros. Then the second class is 50 Euros. And if you register three classes or more, from the third 150 Euros. 

You have the trademark protected for ten years, and you can renew it indefinitely, always for periods of ten years. With voice searches, it can be interesting to identify our brand with a particular sound, like Mercadona's Jingle. There are also multimedia marks, or holograms. Types of brands are being added as we now evolve towards digitization. Everyone has to think about what special needs they may have. 

Pivoting Brands 

We must be careful with brands that can restrict us when the startup begins to grow or tries to diversify. A very real example: Holaplaces. When they entered Lanzadera we realized that they did not have the trademark. Holaplaces is a portal for renting terraces and private spaces for events. Before they were called ATIKO and there was already a very similar brand that was dedicated to real estate services. We come across this risk and the fact that that name was closely linked to the rental of penthouses or terraces, which is what they did when they started. 

But the project was pivoting and they expanded their services to rent unique spaces for small celebrations. Spaces of all kinds: gardens, parks, swimming pools… They had to transform the name and looked for one that represented the reality of the service they now offer. A change like this requires a lot of effort because you have to change domain, email, look for a new logo. 

Brand Development 

It was born as a laundry service, but as they have grown, the vision of the company has been to encompass different verticals. In order not to lose the brand, which already has a lot of international recognition, they created an umbrella brand the good life and from there they registered brands for the different verticals: Mr. Jeff for laundry, Beauty Jeff for hairdressing and beauty, Fit Jeff, for gyms and Relax Jeff, for massages. All in the same App. Concentrating all these services under the same brand helps consumers to associate quality standards, operation, know how it creates trust. 


Photo by Vincenzo Malagoli from Pexels

Protect products 

In the end, many companies protect their main brand first, but if they create new products or different lines of business, it may be interesting to register the name of the products. That is something that happens a lot in the world of video games; they not only register the name of the video game studio, but also the name of the video game or even the name of relevant characters. For example, CHIBIG, a video game company that also has the name of its main video game registered, which is summer in Mara, which has done quite well for it.

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