Our friends over at Brand + Commercial were kind enough to share this top 10 list of ways to protect your brand. So, whether you are a brand new designer or are running a successful brand, there is certainly something on this list for everyone. See all 10 tips after the break below.
(2) Correctly mark up and store your designs: what is important here is to have evidence of creation, should you need it, so do keep detailed drawings, notes and specifications and make sure you mark and sign materials with the name of the designer. Also, it is incredibly important that you date all drawings and designs. Remember, if any designs are produced by your employee, then they should have your stamp as the employer.
(3) Lay out the framework for employment: ensure employment contracts are correctly drafted so as all rights remain with the you as the employer and make sure you contractually obtainassignments of copyright and designs from freelance designers, to ensure that you own all the relevant IP.
(4) Protect your trademark(s): it’s critical that you protect your brand name as well as those logos and names that you will use as trade marks on labels or on the exterior of garments. Remember, trade mark protection may cover more than you might expect – as evidenced by the recent litigation between Christian Louboutin and Yves Saint Laurent.
In practice, it’s important you register the trademark under the appropriate class (e.g. Class 25 for clothing or footwear, Class 18 for bags, Class 14 for jewellery), but also consider registeringfor product classes that you may wish to add in the future. Likewise, you may want to consider registering in countries where you plan to sell your products or where you intend to manufacture your products –
(5) Get to grips with copyright: remember, copyright grants automatic right of protection in two-dimensional prints or patterns on fabric. Other than that, you will likely have to rely on other forms of protection for your designs.
(6) Defend your designs (in the UK): design rights protect the unique appearance of your products, which can be 3D shape or 2D print. There are some differences between the level of protection granted by UK and EU design law, so do seek advice on what is most appropriate.
For instance, there is a broad EU unregistered design right that arises automatically and protects a design for up to 3 years. Due to the seasonal and fast-moving nature of the industry, this is often considered sufficient. However, particularly for signature pieces, on-going designs or garments with unique construction or design elements, certainly consider registering your design. This lasts up to 25 years (if renewed every 5 years).
(7) Consider how to manage confidential information: for example, remember you can request any potential licensees and manufacturers to sign NDAs (non-disclosure agreements), but also be sure you keep your confidential information secure and ensure employees and designers know what you expect and have agreed to maintain confidentiality.
(8) Be smart about licensing: if you are licensing your designs and/or your name, ensure that you have an agreement in place that deals satisfactorily with the key issues of IP (intellectual property) ownership and how your IP will be used, exclusivity, royalties, the rights and obligations of the licensee, the quality that you expect for the products, the territory in which the licensee may operate and so forth.
(9) Be careful about commercial contracts: it goes without saying that it’s critical to consider carefully your partners for manufacture, supply, distribution and agency. Ensure you have strong contracts in place that protect you and confer the right responsibilities on your partners to deliver a benefit that helps your business and your brand grow.
(10) Seek professional advice: Ultimately, getting the right assistance is invaluable and cheaper in the long run.