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12° Nicosia,
21 April, 2024
 

How Trademarks Empower Businesses in the Digital Era

In the digital era, registering trademarks is of paramount importance, especially for small businesses and new entrepreneurs, as they play a crucial role in protecting a company’s brand and intellectual property.

Registering trademarks is a strategic step for small enterprises and startups to safeguard their brand identity, increase brand recognition, build consumer trust, gain a competitive advantage, and establish a strong legal foundation for business growth, aspects which are challenging in today’s digital world, given that almost everyone and everything is online.

''It is a proactive step towards building a resilient and legally protected business identity,'' according to Ms Yanna Raevskaya, Head of Prospectacy Ltd’s Legal Department.

Ms Raevskaya, who has successfully handled a major legal battle against tech giant Apple Inc. which had tried to block Cyprus-based gaming startup Apella Games from registering its name and logo with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), claiming they were visually, phonetically, and conceptually similar to that of Apple’s, says registering early is of paramount importance for several reasons.

''By failing to register their trademark, businesses risk investing time and resources in building a brand that may need to be changed if someone else claims prior rights to a similar mark. Therefore, registering a trademark as early as possible is the most prudent and cost-efficient way to avoid rebranding costs further down the line,” Ms Raevskaya says. “In other words, it is simply more expensive to be unprotected.''

 Additionally, registering a trademark early gives a business a jump-start in securing its online market position. Securing a trademark helps protects brands from infringement in the vast and competitive digital marketplace, reducing the risk of copycat products or services.

This also applies to influencers who promote goods and services through various social media platforms.

A trademark can also be a significant asset for a business, contributing towards raising its overall value.

Registered trademarks are a clever way to monetize a brand; a business can choose to sell the trademark, or lease it, or license it to ensure a steady increase in revenue. A good example is Finnish company Rovio Entertainment, the developer of Angry Birds, which licenses the brand and the related characters to product manufacturers and content producers. In 2022, brand licencing business unit accounted for approximately 3% of group revenue.

Also, if the business expands, the trademark can appreciate in value and become an important part of the company's intellectual property asset portfolio.

Online Presence and Digital Branding

Registering a trademark is crucial for navigating the digital market with distinctiveness, fostering innovation, and contributing to digital diversity.

Also, given that the digital age is highly dependent on the algorithms of search engines, the presence of a trademark in digital content improves search engine optimisation (SEO), acting as a keyword for online visibility.

Social media platforms benefit from a registered trademark, providing a solid foundation to secure a brand's name and logo, preventing confusion or dilution. 

Registering a trademark boosts and secures brand identity, establishing a unique and memorable presence. It differentiates products and services, increasing market differentiation and making goods or services more memorable.

Given the limited attention span of the digital age, a lasting and memorable trademark is crucial for creating a permanent impression.

“Registering a trademark should be a priority from the onset, especially in the digital world, as it can act as a visual ambassador for businesses large and small, as well as entrepreneurs,” Ms Raevskaya says. “In a highly saturated digital market, it’s important to stand out and securing a trademark affords a brand autonomy. A trademark can also sustain a small business in its early days and provide protection for its brand in the fierce digital world.''

Registering a trademark

There are three avenues one can take for registering a trademark (''TM''):

  • National registration via the local competent authorities of a particular jurisdiction (in Cyprus this would be the Intellectual Property Section of the Department of Registrar of Companies and Intellectual Property). National registration affords protection of the TM in that country only and the registration is valid for 10 years (subject to renewal).
  • European registration via the European Union Intellectual Property Office, which affords protection of the TM in all EU countries for 10 years with the option to renew.
  • Worldwide registration via the World Intellectual Property Organization whereby the applicant can opt for registration of a TM in specific countries across the globe. Registration is valid for 10 years.

Small businesses and new entrepreneurs interested in registering a TM should consult qualified advisors who can guide them according to their market needs and the particular product or service.

 

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