As a business owner, you’ve probably heard or read a thousand and one reasons why it is important to protect your brand through trademark registration (We are also guilty of over-flogging the issue lol). You are probably wondering, is it mandatory that I do so? Isn’t my business registration enough to protect my brand?
To help you answer this question, we will be discussing in this article, 3 circumstances where you should seriously consider a trademark registration for your business.
Before we proceed with our points, please bear in mind that a trademark is any symbol, word, and collection of words or phrases that are registered as a representation of a business or whatever service is offered by such individual or organization.
WHEN CAN I REGISTER MY TRADEMARK?
1. WHEN YOUR BUSINESS OR ORGANISATION PROVIDES MORE THAN ONE PRODUCT OR SERVICE WITH DIFFERENT NAMES
In situations where your business or organization is registered with the relevant corporate registry (i.e. The Corporate Affairs Commission), and such business manufactures and sells different products that have names that are distinct from the registered name of the business itself, the names of the various products your business could be registered as trademarks.
Examples of businesses in Nigeria with different products that bear distinct names that sell independently in the market are; Food products such as “Golden Morn”, “Maggi”, “Cerelac”, and “Milo” all products of Nestle Nigeria. To protect these products and to enable them to thrive in the market, the names are registered as trademarks.
For service-based businesses, a practical application of this circumstance can be seen in the case of branded programs/ solutions with names that coaches offer. Where Mrs Nancy, a business coach, for instance, has a solution for businesses having difficulties with structuring their businesses in a way that such businesses can operate without their physical presence. She calls it the “Elite Business Framework” and has applied this paid solution to her clients. She has also been able to get consistent results from her clients. The best way to protect her solution which is her intellectual property, in a way that enables her to use those set of words exclusively for her business, is to have the name of her solution, registered as a trademark.
2. WHERE YOUR BUSINESS, PRODUCT, OR SERVICE IS ASSOCIATED WITH A NAME THAT IS DIFFERENT FROM YOUR REGISTERED BUSINESS NAME OR BIRTH NAME IN THE CASE OF AN INDIVIDUAL
Nobody goes into business having everything clearly mapped out. In some cases, we start a business with a name we believe will serve the purpose of that business, however, along the line, we achieve milestones and accomplish feats that create a lasting impression in the minds of our customers. Such accomplishments or impressions could be represented by a name different from what is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
Since the customer is king, it will be a wise strategy for your business to toe the line of the customer by securing such brand name or symbol as a trademark without having to tamper with your registered business name or birth name.
A typical example of where this will be applicable to individuals can be seen in the case of music artists and actors who are commonly addressed by fans through their stage names. In such cases, it is important that such artists secure their stage names as the latter form a significant part of their identity.
3. WHEN YOU NEED TO PROTECT YOUR BRAND AGAINST CYBER-SQUATTING AND OTHER FORMS OF BRAND THEFT ONLINE
Cyber-squatting refers to a situation where a person registers the domain name of a brand (most a popular brand) with the intention of selling it for profit.
One of the advantages of doing business online is that it gives your business, a wider reach to your customers. However, the wider the ease of access to customers locally and internationally, the easier it is for brand theft to be achieved. Therefore, to protect your brand against cybersquatting or any form of brand theft online, the smart move you could make for your business is to register your brand representations (ie logo, a word, or phrase) as a trademark.
In the case of Cyber-squatting, a popular brand whose domain name has been registered by another, will be able to prove to the Nigerian Internet Registration Association of Nigeria (NiRA), that their brand name was registered by a third party in bad faith only where such brand has secured trademark registration for the said brand. Therefore, as part of its domain dispute resolution policy, NiRA acknowledges evidence of trademark registration, as proof of ownership of domain names in dispute.
The Nigeria Internet Registration Association is the registry for .ng Internet Domain Names and maintains the database of names registered in the .ng country code top-level domain.
Evidence of trademark registration can also protect your brand from brand and intellectual property theft on social media or other online platforms. With evidence of trademark registration, a trademark owner can always issue a cease and desist notice to defaulters online, and should they refuse to comply, enforce their rights in a court of law.
A registered trademark is a valuable asset that every business owner, startup founder, non-profit organization, individual service provider, etc. must make adequate plans for.
Although the list provided above is inexhaustive, we believe it will guide you in making a decision as to whether or not to proceed with trademark registration. Interestingly, these principles aren’t different from what is obtainable globally.
We hope you got value from this article. For further inquiries about trademark registration or if you need us to assist you with securing your trademark, please reach out to us through the Whatsapp icon on your lower right or HERE, and we will be delighted to speak with you.