The world we live in is a world of brands. Almost every single company that seeks to penetrate the market or introduce to the market a new product undergoes a process of business "branding". During this process, the brand or the logo of the company is built so as to help consumers to identify the products or the services with the company that provides them.
The need to protect the brand of any business is almost obvious. In a competitive market where brands dominate, ensuring that only the business owner may use its brand is of great importance, especially when the branding process of a product or of a service requires heavy financial costs. Therefore, the branding strategy of any business, either small or large, must also include business branding protection and stability; otherwise the funds invested in building of the business' brand might be wasted and might even be helpful for the competing businesses.
This kind of protection may be achieved by registering a trademark or service mark, respectively, which is as important as building the brand itself.
Trademarks can consist of letters, numbers, words, images or other signs, or combinations thereof, in two or three dimensions and can be registered for types of products or types of services (in which case it is called "service mark"). The trademark can include the brand name, the logo and any other design features.
Protection of the business brand through trademark registration enables the business to make exclusive use of the trademark in connection with the goods or services for which the trademark is registered. Thereby, trademark registration enables business owners to protect their investment in building their brand and logo.
The value and strength of the brand is in its ability to create an emotional connection between the product or service and the "consumer" and in differentiating the product from other similar products in the market. Trademark registration also facilitates business owners to gain reputation and to prevent their competitors on the market from making use of their own brand.
The first step of the branding strategy consists of carrying out a thorough review to ensure that the brand that was chosen is indeed "open" to be used as a brand for the business – in other words, ensuring that no other business previously submitted to registration the same trademark or service mark. Indeed, in the event that the chosen brand is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark of another business, the owner of the registered trademark is entitled to prevent a business from making use of its trademark, and even more severely, may initiate legal proceedings for obtaining compensation due to the use of this trademark.
To clarify, the owner of a registered trademark is the only one who is entitled to make use of the mark in relation to the goods or services for which it is registered. Therefore, the use of an identical or confusingly similar trademark with respect to the same kind of products or services by another person without authorization might be considered as an infringement of the said trademark, which may entitle the mark owner to seek compensation and prevent any further infringement. In this case, its sufficient to show that the trademark is registered and one does not need to show that is has any goodwill. Moreover, when a trademark is registered one does not even has to show that the public actually is confused by the trademarks and proving the similarity between them is sufficient.
Therefore, especially small and emerging business owners can take advantage of registering a trademark since that in this way they protect their own brand even before it has acquired extensive goodwill on the market. Fledgling enterprises may not enjoy other protections provided by laws for those who have already gained reputation on the market, such as protection for well-known trademarks. The best and nearly exclusive way to protect the brand of fledgling businesses that haven't yet gained reputation on the market is by means of registering a trademark or service mark.
After selecting a brand, the second stage of the branding strategy consists of registering the said trademark in the Register of Trademarks. As explained above, this procedure will ensure that the business owner will enjoy the exclusive right to make use of the trademark. New business owners who haven't yet registered their trademark for their brand are likely to lose all their investment in the branding of their product, if a third party on the market starts marketing a similar product under the same name or, more severely, if a competitor registered a trademark for his brand, which would prevent the first business owner from making use of his brand that he has been building.
The cost of registration of a trademark, in light of the benefit business owners may have out of it, is very low and the fee to pay in respect to every application for registration amounts to date to ₪ 1,617 only.
We should remind that the more successful a particular product is the more economic value the trademark shall have.
Since consumers identify products by trademarks and can therefore select products among others. The same is applicable for service mark. The more the services provider gains reputation for his name, the more economic value the name shall have and the more important the service mark registration on the name of the business shall have.
Hence, the registration of a trademark and service mark is a central element in the branding strategy of any business and in the protection of the business brand.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.