From $26 to $26 billion: How trademarking can increase the value of your brand

Imagine turning $26 into $26 billion.

The iconic Nike swoosh logo was worth exactly $26 in 1971, when founder Phil Knight paid a designer to create it. Today the value of the brand is estimated at $26 billion. 

This is just one of countless examples of how valuable a brand can be.

Most well-known brands build their identity around the name and logo they’ve created. The more success your business achieves, the more valuable your brand becomes.

Don’t overlook the part your brand plays in building a business. In many cases it’s a big part of a business’ profitability. In dynamic, fast moving industries, it can be the difference between success and failure.

It doesn’t hurt to plan for the future either. What may seem small and incidental today could be earning you serious money in the next few years.

If you’re questioning the value of brand, try this: look up the prices of different types of smartphones or TVs and compare how prices differ for essentially the same product. Does that price difference come down to the varying specs, or are you mostly paying for brand?

Taking the same steps to trademark and therefore protect your own brand, you can increase the value of your products too.

Step 1 – Learn how to protect your brand

A good way to start the process is to ask yourself three questions: 

  • What products or services are the key to my business? Am I a supplier of goods, a service provider, or both?
  • What steps have I taken to protect them?
  • What advantages does protecting them give me in my market? 

If you’re unsure about how to approach the protection of your brand and intellectual property (IP), the first thing to consider is your market and intended market. Who are your competitors and what element of your business might they be most interested in?

For tech companies, your unique software might be most at risk. If you have a hospitality business, perhaps it’s your unique preparation process.

To help ward off potential copycats of your original ideas, consider creating non-disclosure agreements for your employees and perhaps even suppliers.

You can take this further by trademarking your brand as a form of insurance policy. While you may never need it, you’ll soon realise its value if you do.

Step 2 – Research, even if you aren’t the research type

Before you lock down your business identity, researching what brands currently exist will save you time and money.

A simple way to do this is to type your brand into the Australian Trade Mark Search to see if another business is using the same or similar branding in your market.

There are three reasons why this step is necessary:

  • Using someone else’s brand, even by mistake, can open you up to costly legal action.
  • If you infringe on someone else’s brand, you may need to change your business name, branding and signage.
  • You are more likely to submit a successful trade mark application on your first attempt.

Step 3 – Think big

Your brand can become your most valuable asset, so researching other brands in the market is worth your time.

If your plans stretches to overseas markets, here are a few things to remember:

  • An Australian trademark only provides protection in Australia.
  • Each overseas jurisdiction has its own IP laws, so you will need to apply for an IP protection in every market where you want to protect your brand.
  • Using an attorney can sometimes be the easiest way to protect your brand internationally.

Step 4 – Know how to stay safe

Many businesses rely on staff, independent consultants or contractors to develop your ideas.

You might assume that anything they create while being paid is automatically belongs to the business they work for. But that’s not always the case.

Some ways to stay safe include:

  • Non-disclosure agreements
  • Specific clauses in employee contracts (especially if they are contractors)
  • Enforcing your protected IP if you see an infringement

Step 5 – Apply

By this stage, you may be ready to apply for a trade mark. This is where you’ll need to decide which application best suits you before you apply.

There are two options:

  1. TM Headstart process – a professional assessment of your application by an examiner before you officially apply, and the chance to change or add to your application. The cost starts at $330.
  2. Standard application – jump straight in and apply with no pre-application assistance from an examiner. The cost starts at $250.

Learn how to protect your brand with a simple 5 step guided way. Find out more about IP Australia’s free Upskill course here.

IP Australia
IP Australia

We are the Australian Government agency that administers intellectual property (IP) rights and legislation relating to patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeder's rights. Our vision is to have a world leading IP system that builds prosperity for Australia.

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