STOP USING OUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY (IP)!
We all probably had an occasion (or two) where we found ourselves talking with a (more experienced) entrepreneur who said: "It make sense to protect your trademark or brand." If you, by any chance, have not heard or read about it, first read through this article: 6 Why's for Trademark registration.
Today, I am going to briefly describe 4 most common scenarios that your company faces if proper protection for your Intellectual Property is not in place or has not been dealt with as part of your overall business strategy.
We received a letter/email from an Attorney
Such letters typically begin with:
"TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN!
It has come to our client's attention that you are using/producing/distributing/offering ..."
... and the letter usually states the basis of the infringement (either you are infringing on copyright, patent, trademark, design, etc.), reference data and sets forth (usually) very short deadlines for actions from your part - desist of usage, negotiate a licensee agreement, payment of a lump sum or (if you are lucky) only asks to never infringe again.
Either way, it is highly recommended to seek help from your specialised Intellectual Property (IP) professional, who can advise you on what your next steps could be. If you are still wondering why should Entrepreneur or CEO bother with these questions, check out the IP protection – throwing your money around?
Your products end up in customs seizures or are destroyed completely
You have signed supply/development/design contract with your buyer abroad. You just have sent out a large shipment a couple of days ago, when you receive information that your merchandise has been detained by customs... Successful companies that effectively manage their Intellectual Property have (as part of their processes) internal or external experts that help monitoring their products (and products of their competitors) and can (with help of customs and other authorities) stop your infringing goods even before they enter a specific market. Way before your sent shipment even ends up at local stores.
So, do you really want to produce/design/offer something that might not even arrive to its destination? How do you think you buyers/partners will react to information that your shipment is delayed? Or even destroyed due to possible infringement? I have already written about the things you CAN do after you have successfully registered your Trademark.
...at least until your product/service start to generate visible money or when you are starting to gain considerable market share. Then (sometimes it takes a couple of years before) you get a letter in a form that I have just described. There is also a small chance that actually nothing will happen to you, but consider this:
For those of you who have not yet received such letter, I suggest you have look at the following case studies: The power of brands or this An IP Strategy for exports or A vital tool for artists! And the list goes on and on...
Invitation to a defendant to comment a lawsuit...
I guess I don't need to explain that a received document, that starts this way (sent by local court), does not look promising (except to your Attorney:). At least not for you, if in fact it turns out that your products/services actually do infringe someone else's Intellectual Property. For this reason alone, it is of vital importance to implement process of checking your product/service if it is infringing on third party's IP rights. Especially so if you are in business of growing.