M Y S AY PROTECTING YOUR START-UP IP By Sarah Harrison We’re all familiar with the concept of a ‘startup’. It’s an important player in the business environment of any healthy economy: bringing new products, new services and fresh thinking on a wave of entrepreneurial passion and energy. But it’s a challenging game entering the market for the first time. You’re not known, your customer base is small, your funds may be low – and well established competitors are keen to ensure you don’t threaten their business. It’s a vulnerable stage in the life of a business -not least in terms of your brand identity. How do you protect your fledgling brand or, more pertinently, how do you keep the IP protection cost manageable when you don’t have significant resources? For any start-up, money is tight and each dollar may be pulled in different directions. Prioritising spend is critical, but you must still balance this against the long-term objectives that sound intellectual property cover will safeguard. Your long-term objectives will differ depending on the nature of your start-up, but a trade mark (aka a brand) is typically an anchor-point for all RAPID RESULTS 10 SEPTEMBER 2016 businesses. It is, after all, your identity in the market. Each business is striving to create a reputation that will come to be imbued with their business. When you succeed in this, you separate yourself from your competitors and avoid getting lost in the crowd. The more unique and creative your selected trade mark, the greater your brand differentiation. Even so, many businesses are tempted to select a name that describes the nature or purpose of their product or service, a trade mark that immediately tells your customers what you do or what you are selling. Tempting…yes. But descriptive names are best avoided. You need to trust in your ability to develop a brand reputation without the need to choose a purely descriptive trade mark. Such trade marks are difficult to protect. Even if you succeed in securing registered protection for such a brand, your competitors will sit much closer to you. Your ability to assert your rights against other similar brands will almost inevitably be compromised. To avoid this trap, make your brand selection a priority - a critical step in shaping the personality and story of your start-up. The start-up team should aim for a brand that is unique, one that will make an impression on customers, and set them apart from their competitors. It should also be one that is easily searched online. Also, consider how you want your business to develop over the next three-to-five years, and have clearance searches completed well before you commit to your mark to check it is available and you don’t infringe someone else. Careful search and filing strategies can also stagger costs, and should be viewed as an integral part of the brand selection process. Rather than commit to a trade mark and deal with unforeseen repercussions post-launch, take action once you have a shortlist of marks that have passed scrutiny. The story of NZ honey start-up Lumojo Honey is a sound case study in how to take a bold branding approach, while taking care to protect the brand IP. Conventionally, honey marketers have tended to emphasise the product – along with the bees, PATHOGEN TESTING SEAL6645FT3 TRIED, TESTED AND TRUSTED FOR MORE INFO FREEPHONE 0508 HILL LAB (44 555 22) www.hill-laboratories.com NEW PATHOGEN PCR TESTING We’re proud to offer innovative new PCR testing services for Salmonella and Listeria in food and environmental samples. Developed and validated at our Molecular Facility in Hamilton, our test gives next day results (or an additional day to confirm a positive sample). Our PCR test is accredited for export, with the added benefit of a reduced number of false positive screens. To find out more, talk to one of our Client Service Managers today.
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