During the present pandemic, it is vital for businesses to take stock of their main assets, including arguably their most valuable intellectual property (IP) assets. This also requires reviewing the protection of IP assets, their closely monitoring and uses these IP rights for infringement. If IP rights are not adequately monitored, businesses run the risk of losing their competitive advantage, and in the worst-case scenario, their business altogether.
The primarily intellectual property asset for any business is its trade mark. If your brand is compromised or tarnished in any way it can cause much harm to your business and its bottom line. It is a right time for businesses to review their brand/trade mark portfolios to make sure that they have adequate registered trade mark protection to align with their commercial requirements. This includes making sure brands are registered as trade marks in the first place, and to the extent they are already registered, that the registration aligns with their use. This is especially important if a business has made any change to the way in which it carries on its business. For instance, while having registered marks in New Zealand is fundamental, if your business is now trading in overseas markets or new markets, you should give serious consideration to expanding your registered trade mark protection according to those markets.
Equally, if you are increasing your business or its product range or entering a new market, you are required to make sure you have conducted trade mark searches that you are not inadvertently infringing another party’s rights.
Monitoring you IP
As well as monitoring their own use, businesses should also be closely monitoring the activities of other parties, especially if they operate in the online environment. It is not tough for unscrupulous traders to either use your brands without your prior authorisation and/or trade in counterfeit goods. Such activity risks harming consumer perception and the underlying value of a brand, can divert legitimate business away and ultimately cause significant financial loss to an organisation. Businesses are required therefore be prepared to take strict action in the event they find infringement.
Legal channels to stop IP infringement
As well as the usual legal channels to stop infringement, businesses can also include utilise complaints processes for social media and online e-commerce platforms. These processes are typically IP owner-friendly, low cost and usually achieve prompt remedial action. Businesses can also take potential steps to diminish the risk of infringement online, which could include using clearing houses and registering user domain names, or account names and pages, that align with their brands. Such measures are considered usually low cost, especially when compared to the costs of legal action via the courts.
While current pandemic projects significant risk and uncertainty to businesses, it is necessary to note that it also providing opportunity for businesses to change the way they operate, take stock of their IP rights and to implement strategies to safeguard and enhance Intellectual property rights. Businesses that do so will flourish beyond these dark days we are all facing and making sure their survival for long period of time.