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Trademarks and brand protection.

Creating a brand that is known and trusted by your customers can be integral to the growth and value of your business.

In particular, having a brand that stands out and is recognisable to customers can give your business that competitive edge it needs to generate customer loyalty and sales. Registering your brand can also make it a valuable asset to your business, particularly if you are looking to on-sell your business in the future.

Accordingly it is important to ask the question, what steps are you taking to protect your brand?

 

New Zealand Company Name Registration

If you run your business through a New Zealand Registered Company, a simple way to help protect your brand name is to make your company name the same as your brand name. This prevents another person from registering your brand name, or a name that is nearly identical to your brand name, as their own company name.

This can be done on incorporation of your company, or if you already have a registered company you can, subject to compliance with the Companies Act 1993, make an application to change your company name.

 

New Zealand Trade Mark Registration

If your brand is not registered as a trade mark, it can be easier for competitors to copy or ‘piggy back’ off the reputation of your brand. This can potentially devalue your business, especially if your brand is tied to cheaply made goods or services that are provided to a lower standard of care. A registered trade mark is therefore one of the most effective ways to protect your brand against unauthorised use, replication and potential devaluation.

In New Zealand, a registered trade mark gives you the exclusive right to use the trade mark within your industry in New Zealand for up to ten years at a time.

This means that while your trade mark is registered in New Zealand, no competing business can use your brand, or a brand that is confusingly similar to your brand in New Zealand to benefit from the goodwill and reputation of your business.

In addition to giving you the exclusive rights to use your brand within your industry, New Zealand trade marks are also classified as personal property. This can make your trade mark a potentially valuable business asset, as you can sell the trade mark to another person or business, or license it to other parties for them to use (on your terms).

It is important to note that your trade mark registration does not have to be limited to the brand name alone - it could include logos, shapes, colours, sounds, smells or any combination of the above.

 

Other Avenues: International Trade Marks and Domain Names

As mentioned above, a New Zealand trade mark registration only affords you protection in New Zealand. Accordingly, if you are doing business outside of New Zealand, it may be important to consider whether filing your brand as an international trade mark, or registering your brand as a trade mark in another country is appropriate.

In a world where the internet is becoming integral to the way we do business, you should also discuss with your website or IT provider whether your brand name is available to be registered as a domain name. This means that when customers search for your business online using your brand name, they can be directed to your business’ website.

 

The above article provides a brief overview of some options for brand protection in New Zealand. It is not intended to be a comprehensive outline of brand protection or intellectual property law in New Zealand, or to be constituted as legal advice. If you require any legal advice or further information about this article, please contact the team at Davenports Law to discuss.

Think you have a brand worth protecting? Our Business Law team can guide you through the process of adding legal protection to your brand.

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