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The power of branding to persuade consumers to make or repeat a purchasing experience is well known. Brands give products and services an identity. Companies invest heavily in promoting and advertising their brands because a strong brand will retain a loyal customer base of repeat purchasers. The world’s biggest brands have large revenue streams associated with them because of this loyalty. Some of the big brands are immensely valuable, to the tune of tens of billions of dollars.
A guarantee of origin
Branding allows consumers to repeat a purchasing experience easily: a strong brand will stand out from the crowd and serve to distinguish a product from the competition. A brand operates as a badge of origin, guaranteeing to the consumer that the goods or services that they purchase come from a particular source that they trust.
Securing a brand
Brands are intangible assets. Intellectual property law in the UK provides a number of ways in which brands can be secured. The best known and probably the most effective form of protection is to get a trade mark registration. All kinds of signs, including words, logos, straplines, shapes and even sounds and smells can be registered as trade marks.
Protecting a brand
Famous brands are often protected by many trade marks registered in countries throughout the world. Companies use their trade mark registrations to prevent others from "free riding" on the back of the strong brand loyalty that they have created. Sometimes, criminals apply registered trade marks to goods and then sell those goods to the public. This is an offence under UK law. It is called counterfeiting and it is a very serious problem for many brand owners.
Further information on protecting your brand against counterfeits
Trade mark disputes
Sometimes, companies manage to obtain trade mark registrations for simple words, shapes and colours: signs which the public would ordinarily expect to be able to use without running into legal problems. Sometimes, two companies will both claim rights to the same or a similar trade mark. Trade mark problems often come up in advertising, especially in comparative advertising (where an advertisement contains a direct comparison between goods or services sold by two companies). Issues like these can sometimes lead to trade mark disputes.
Further information on trade mark disputes
Other forms of protection – unregistered trade marks, copyright and designs
In the UK, the law of passing off can be used to protect certain signs, logos and names that have not been registered as trade marks. Other intellectual property rights that can be used to protect brands include copyright and design right. For further information on these IP rights, please contact us.
Further information on copyright
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