If your rebranding strategy involves changing the aspects of your business that are eligible for trademark or design protection, it`s important to check if such protection is available for new brand elements (or if the assets are already owned by someone else). However, successful rebranding doesn`t always have to involve abandoning previously used brand names and logos in favor of acquiring completely new brands. A recent example of a rebranding that retained the registered brand logo, a logo dating back to at least 1983, is that of Abercrombie & Fitch. The clothing company`s rebranding appears to have focused on the content of its marketing materials, in-store shopping experience, and products. When making this decision, it is important to consider that rebranding involves high upfront costs (designing the new brand, registering intellectual property rights, informing employees, customers and other stakeholders, etc.) and can lead to a drop in consumer engagement early in the transition due to confusion. www.businessinsider.com/10-most-successful-rebranding-campaigns-2011-2 Your rebranding likely includes authorship of copyrighted art, such as video ads and print materials. While copyright exists in all original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works once they are created, there are benefits to copyright registration that may motivate you to register your copyright in one or more of these works. The first step should always be a comprehensive search of existing trademarks to ensure that the name and/or logo does not conflict with other trademarks. The best place to start is a Google search, as this often provides good context for brand name availability. In general, if there are no similar search results and there is availability of domain names, that`s a good sign.
Of course, this is not enough from a legal point of view. Three legal searches must be conducted concern the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the corresponding government trademark registration searches, depending on the geographical scope a company wishes to cover. Although there are different considerations for research at WIPO, the remainder of this item is only for research conducted at the USPTO. In addition to the legal effects on intellectual property, if part of your rebranding involves a change in your company name, you must also register a company name. This is crucial because your company name is an official name that is used not only for marketing the business, but also for documents/documents. Filing a formal change of ownership (CHOW) is more complicated than a CDI, but it may be the best way to proceed, as it offers the opportunity to (re)reset and simplify the structure of your entity. This can be very attractive when two companies embark on a merger of equals and adopt a completely new identity. In this scenario, Legal may want to dissolve both companies and register a new one. All company names must be registered, unless your company trades with your own legal name. However, just because your company name is registered doesn`t mean you have exclusive rights and can prevent others from using it. If you want exclusive rights to your company name, you must file a trademark application. Your company name and logo are intellectual property rights that must be trademarks.
There are many other reasons why an application for trademark registration may be refused by the examining board, for example if the mark is solely descriptive, geographically descriptive or generic. However, from a rebranding perspective, the biggest concern is the rejection of the “likelihood of confusion,” as this means that another company has already registered a trademark that conflicts with the name or logo of the rebranding company. Whatever you do, it`s important that you make sure you don`t infringe on another company`s intellectual property, as this can result in high legal fees. To avoid ambiguity, choosing a new brand is not easy. It`s really, really hard. Expect to choose a trademark only to discover the risk of being denied registration or facing trademark infringement claims, making it a non-option. Don`t make the amateur mistake of asking the marketing team or brand VP to choose the new brand without legal implications. A trademark attorney should be involved from the beginning and work with the creative team. Some trademarks may not be considered trademarks because they are generic or descriptive. Other promising brands may expose the organization to trademark litigation and therefore significant legal and financial risks. Some may make the desired brand a poor choice for practical reasons, such as use by third parties in connection with an unwanted domain (e.g., pornography).
In any event, follow the recommended process of identifying certain options, have trademark lawyers conduct research and authorization notices, and then conduct non-legal due diligence related to the selection of a new mark. To legally change your company name, you must either amend your current corporate documents as filed with the state or create a new business unit for your renowned organization. If you change the name of your business unit, you can keep the same tax identification number. In addition, you do not have to assign your current contracts to the new company, but you must inform the contracting parties of the name change. If you want to create a new division, you must transfer assets and contracts from the old division to the new division. So you`ve decided to rename your business. Or you just listened to our podcast episode on rebranding. And now? What steps should you take to protect your brand and business from the myriad pitfalls associated with rebranding an existing business or product? As mentioned earlier, abandoning the old brand altogether isn`t necessarily the best idea.
There will likely be a transition period if you rename and apply for legal protection – so consider maintaining the legal protection of your old trademark while you make legal preparations. This will help keep your existing customer base and keep other competitors out of the edge while you`re in the process of switching brands. For example, if you switch brands due to a merger and acquisition, you`ll likely feel immense pressure to introduce your new identity quickly and efficiently. But before you move forward, take the time to discuss your unique situation with a lawyer. If you`re a new business, you may want to consider rebranding as your company`s offerings change. For example, you have now stopped focusing on a particular niche good or service and your business name is now too restrictive. Alternatively, the service mark or brand you originally used doesn`t seem to resonate with your target market, so you`ll want to have a more suggestive brand. Too often, a newly selected trademark, whether by a start-up or a long-standing company, is attacked by third parties due to allegations of trademark infringement. Instead of fighting, or maybe because you lost the battle, you need to rename.
Regadless, there is usually a reason why rebranding is desired or necessary. While there`s a lot of educational content regarding rebranding your business, here are the top 5 legal considerations for any rebranding: A rebranding is also a good time to decide whether to restructure or remove redundant or obsolete holdings. You may find that there are service offerings or sub-brands that are no longer relevant to the strategic direction of your business. Take the time to identify these areas early with legal counsel so you don`t waste organizational resources transforming brand assets for a part of your business that no longer has a purpose. Deciding on the best strategy to get your new brand out there in the world is fun and exciting. But it`s also expensive and can come with immense pressure to get it right. Therefore, it is extremely important to make sure that all your T`s are crossed and that all your i`s are dotted in terms of legal dependencies. If you can answer the previous questions in the affirmative, rebranding your business can be helpful. If you`re a small business owner looking to rebrand your business, it`s imperative that you keep all the potential legal implications of such a rebranding in mind before making any changes. While rebranding or rebranding the company is essentially a marketing strategy, there are legal requirements that must be met for a successful rebranding.