Intellectual Property (IP), like real property, has value. Your brand strategy, the emotional aspect of marketing, often seen as the “intangible feeling”, contains tangible property. The question is – how do you protect your global brand strategy in another country? After you have decided the optimum position for your brand outside of your domestic market, how do you protect the way your business communicates with your actual or targeted audience in the foreign market?
What IP rights do you own in your brand strategy in the U.S.?
While the brand strategy is the emotional aspect of marketing, each component – the product, the logo, the website, the name – is tangible property. Ensuring that you can use each component in your brand strategy as you expand your business cross-borders entails engaging in legal planning. In the case of a global brand strategy – some areas of IP (trademarks, trade secrets, and copyrights) could be implicated. Knowing which areas of IP law are applicable to your brand strategy is important if you are an international entrepreneur expanding your brand to the U.S. market.
IP questions to consider if expanding your business services or products to the U.S.
Got a great trademark – can you expand it?
Trademarks play a very important role in your brand, no matter where it is based. If your trademarks play an important role in your brand strategy within your domestic market, then the question becomes, can you use it in the U.S. market? Will it be available? If you can and it is available – can you use it nationally, or only in selected states? Can you use the same packaging? Can you secure the domain name or do you have to buy it from a secondary market of investors?
Trade secrets – are you protecting them everywhere you go?
You may know the secrets to your success – but are any of them trade secrets, and thus protectable? Financial, organizational, marketing and technical information can be considered trade secrets in the U.S., and afforded protection. Do you have information about your product/service that has derived economic value? Do you keep it a secret? How? Did you know that trade secret protections are a state issue, meaning that each state has their own trade secret legislation?
Can you copyright your brand strategy? Its about the expression, not the idea
Does your brand strategy include your website, software, packaging, articles or any other tangible medium? How you express the intangible feeling you create in your brand strategy can by protected by in the U.S. by copyrighting tangible aspects. How important is it to you that your company’s website maintain it uniqueness? How important is it to the brand strategy? Could you maintain your how your brand is defined in the U.S. or will you have to change the tangible ways your product or service is expressed to your audience?
Planning for your IP rights and needs in the U.S. is taking a tactical approach, which means, you must take concrete steps to protect and grow your brand in the U.S. market. While you may have developed your brand strategy to build and define your brand in your domestic market, the question is whether or not you can continue to use it in the U.S. market – and you will not know until you start planning.
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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article do not constitute legal advice and legal information provided in this post should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please contact an Attorney for advice on your specific matter.