Startups Must Give A Special Attention To Trademark Protection: Here’s Why

As the name suggests, a trademark is an intangible kind of intellectual property (IP) and can take the shape of a word, symbol, design, logo, or combination of any of these. These factors all contribute to a company entity's identity and distinguish it from others. Trademarks increase a company's goodwill and identity or recognition, which aids in attracting new customers. 

A trademark is defined as any mark that may be represented graphically, and that can be used to differentiate the goods and services of one person from those of others by Section 2(1)(zb) of the Trademarks Act 1999. This could include how the products are packaged, their shape, and their colour scheme.  

This definition implies that a trademark can be any mark used by a company, whether traditionally or unconventionally, that can distinguish it from competitors and represent the company. Therefore, any startup must consider how important it is to preserve its trademark.  

Importance Of Trademark Protection 

Any startup's trademark distinguishes it from competitors and conveys its goodwill and brand value. The brand's value and the value of its trademark are directly inversely correlated. Therefore, it is impossible to undervalue the significance of any trademark. The following are some justifications for trademark protection:  

  • Recognition: A trademark is connected to any brand as its alter ego. It might lead to an immediate awareness of the goods or services for a startup. They can also certify the quality in addition to this.  
  • Benefit in the long run: Unlike other IP protection tools like copyrights or patents, trademark rights are perpetually given, provided the trademark registration is timely renewed for a new 10-year term each time.  
  • Competitive Advantage: Trademarks can give entrepreneurs a significant competitive edge because they appreciate value along with the valuation of startups. In addition, buyers can recognise the new product through its trademark in product diversification, helping the startup increase its market share.  
  • Legal Security: The registration of trademarks increases brand identity protection and allows startups to protect their market interests without incurring needless legal fees or litigation. In addition, they gain statutory IP rights that cannot be misused or exploited by third parties.  

Best Practices for Trademark 

Here are some steps a startup can take to improve and protect its brand identity concerning its trademark:  

  • A thorough trademark search: Before finalising a brand name, a comprehensive trademark search on the proposed trademark(s) should be carried out, including due diligence for any similarity in names, logos or other symbols that may be common with any third-party entity.  
  • Choosing a strong trademark: A strong trademark that is associated with the product/service it provides should be selected to have easy identification and reach for the brand.  
  • Regular trademark use: Regular trademark use keeps the mark active and prevents it from being abandoned. According to the Trademark Act, any trademark that has not been used for five years and three months straight is subject to abandonment or cancellation and is open to use by any other organisation.  
  • Continuous observation: New businesses must closely monitor other players in the market and rivals who might mistakenly associate their trademarks with similar goods. In this situation, competent legal assistance should be obtained to safeguard the brand.  

Every effort should be made to protect trademarks from any infringement of intellectual property rights or unauthorised usage because they are crucial to any startup. Any lapse or omission in trademark protection could lead to theft or losses, which would reduce the company's market share and goodwill. One can think of trademarks as an investment in their own brand. Over time, they build a tremendous amount of goodwill and provide a sizable consumer base. Therefore, it is imperative that entrepreneurs begin to take trademark protection seriously.