I talk to clients all over the world and many of them do not fully realize the value of their international business brand. When I work with international business clients who want to enhance their exposure and increase their revenue, I usually have to stop them and ask if they have taken the necessary steps to protect their trademarks first. It is just one of the top mistakes that international business professionals make when it comes to their business branding.
I once had a client who wanted to put his brand into the very competitive world of sports footwear. When I asked him what his primary brand name was, he gave me a name that was vague and indistinguishable from the competition. If you want your brand to stand out on an international market, then you need to make sure that your brand name is unique.
Limited Protection of Brands
When you have a trademark that you’ve worked hard to establish in the United States, you have certain rights to that trademark that no one can violate; but, that will not stop a company from [insert any foreign country] from using your trademark to generate revenue for itself. International businesses need to think of protecting their brand on a global scale, if they want to completely protect themselves.
Not Doing a Search Before Creating A Trademark
I always warn clients that they need to allow me to do preliminary work before they invest in creating a trademark. I will do all of the searches that need to be done to make sure that your brand will be protected in all of the major international markets. Without that preliminary search, you may wind up investing in a brand name that is already being used in certain parts of the world.
Not Utilizing Brand Protections
One of the biggest mistakes international businesses make is to assume that protecting their corporate trademark automatically protects their brand names as well. Every brand name that you intend to use to generate revenue needs to be protected.
Forgetting To Trademark Nicknames
For years, IBM was nicknamed “Big Blue” by the business world. But IBM took too many things for granted and never trademarked its nickname. When a company from Brooklyn, NY decided to call itself Big Blue Distributing, IBM immediately sued for trademark infringement. Since there was no trademark, IBM lost and Big Blue Distributing is doing very well.
Not Using a Professional Service
All services come at a cost, but as a professional, I would like to think I earn that fee. I am a trademark expert and I can help save your company money by protecting the brand you have built up. When companies, especially small businesses, who know nothing about trademarking, try to do it themselves, they wind up doing it wrong and then wishing they had just invested in a professional in the first place.
Not Protecting All Elements of Their Brand
Did you know that you can trademark a smell if it can be proven that it is unique to your company? I know it is weird, but it is true. When I trademark a company brand, I make sure I include the colors, logos, slogans, and everything to do with the brand. If you leave anything out, you are exposing yourself to being victimized.
Leaving Out the Copyrights
I never assume that a trademark is going to cover everything I need to protect a brand. If there is a copyright that can be used to enhance brand protection, then I am going to use it. Too many international companies ignore copyright laws and wind up paying for it.
Not Keeping an Eye on the International Market
One of my most time-consuming, but important, jobs is to make sure that no one is trying to use my clients’ trademarked materials illegally. It is a monitoring service that is essential, but often ignored by international businesses.
Ignoring Renewal Notices
Trademark laws vary from country to country. Some countries require regular renewals of trademarks, and others do not. Many international businesses lose their trademarks in some countries because they simply did not make the appropriate renewals.
I spend a lot of time each day doing legwork for my international trademark clients, and it makes a difference in the protection of their brands. International businesses that do not have a professional service protecting their trademarks often find themselves losing control of the brand names they worked so hard to establish.
Photo credit: borkur.net