In this day and age, having a business has become more convenient because of the availability of information through the internet. Whether you want to put up a blog or start an online shop, the information you need is just a click away.
Since everything is readily available online, your businesses have become vulnerable as well, and could easily be imitated or pirated if not well-protected by law.
Conversely, apart from acquiring necessary business permits and registrations, you also have to protect your intellectual property.
Protect Your Intellectual Property
What is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property is the ownership of your (business) ideas and concepts. Unlike a physical store or items in the office, intellectual property pertains to your ideas and business concepts that obviously are hard to protect from anything.
For instance, you’re a Chemist and was able to come up with a great invention or medicine, you must have your formula patented so no one can copy and resell the idea to others. Otherwise, they can reproduce it at a cheaper price and eventually, affect your business.
Unfortunately, piracy and counterfeiting became the number one culprit in the Philippines due to people patronizing pirated products. For example, CDs and DVDs for movies and music and some fake luxury brands like Louis Vuitton are being sold by retailers—who are not licensed to do so. Hence, the greater your need to protect your business.
How to Protect Your Intellectual Property
Ideally, there are three ways to protect your intellectual property in the Philippines.
• Trademark – this refers to the brand name and can either be a phrase or a symbol. A good example is the golden arch of McDonald’s. Should you use the golden arch without McDonald’s permission, it follows that you’ll be apprehended accordingly.
• Copyright – the same thing happens to any written document copied and used without permission. Architectural works, literary works, musical and movie works, are just a few of the many examples of copyright infringements.
• Patent – this refers to a product like medicines, laptops, gadgets, or designs like logos. This gives you the right to exclude others from duplicating or imitating your product, inventions, and the like.
Moreover, Intellectual property gives you the advantage of having a successful business. It protects your business concept for twenty (20) years, which is essential should you want to expand or broaden your options.
Develop an IP strategy
Another great way to protect your business is to develop an intellectual property (IP) strategy, which serves as your weapon from having your ideas pirated or counterfeited.
For example, the Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is a known online shopping platform that carries certified and verified retailers to sell original products only. Unfortunately, they were put in the spotlight for allowing other retailers to sell fake designer items on their website. As a result, they need to work with the regulators to crack down infringed items to avoid getting sued by the original manufacturers—in this case, Louis Vuitton and Yves Saint Laurent.
As luck would have it, this is preventable by developing a solid IP strategy, in which you must go back to the basics. When I say basic, you must understand and consider your business goals.
Is your trademark or logo representing your company? Is the design misleading or not? I suggest going through your business plan again to help you come up with a smart strategy.
Abide by the Law
In the Philippines, we have an agency to assist you in protecting your intellectual property, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines or IPOPHL. Depending on the nature of your business, you may download the following forms below:
Please be advised that each form has corresponding requirements to be submitted. You may check the list of requirements (here).
You have to ensure that your trademark is, indeed, registered and not just reserved. The trademark registration form must be filled out and filed at the Bureau of Trademarks of the Intellectual Property Office located in Taguig City.
Usually, trademark registration in the Philippines takes 6-18 months before you can be sure your business or trademark is patented and properly registered.
Admittedly, the process is as complex as registering your business. It requires time and patience, as well as, someone equipped to do this for you. So, when in doubt, you can always hire a reliable firm to register it for you.
Starbucks, Nike, McDonald’s, and Apple, to name a few, have compelling visual remarks and have impacted all industries globally. But, what do they have in common? Diligence!
These brands have created unique trademarks that speak for themselves. Should you hire a third-party to create your logo and other trademarks, make sure that they are knowledgeable and updated with the rules and regulations to avoid copyright infringements. Also, these trademarks are more than just logos, as these can double as visual selling points, which would aid your consumers in distinguishing your brand from others.
As mentioned earlier, the information we need is vulnerable and can be used by anyone. Hence, diligence is the key.
Protecting your business is as significant as nurturing your children. When they get hurt by other people, we protect and defend them by ensuring their safety and giving them ample attention. The same thing applies to your business. You nurture it and make sure it flourishes into a stable and reputable company.
Personally, as a creative entrepreneur myself, I cannot fathom someone using my work or images without proper credit or permission. While it’s likely to cost you money and time to protect your business, I am certain that you will benefit from registering your trademark in the long haul.