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E-COMMERCE BRANDING: TRADEMARK HURDLES

For a business, a trademark is important and so is its protection. One of the most trending branches of business these days is e-commerce. Since e-commerce is a web-based service a lot of things such as designs, networks, software, etc. are to be protected. Virtual markets have a liability of brand protection and preventing online counterfeiting

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A brand is not something that we tell our customers it is, rather it is something that customers tell and discuss amongst each other. A brand is not merely a name, it is a medium of interaction with the target audience. Through a brand, the company disseminates the information about the things it does and the products & services in which it deals. Like any other business, it is essential for an e-commerce business to trademark its brand and carve out a good strategy for the same.

WHAT IS A TRADEMARK

Trademark is a logo, design, symbol or a word used in combination to distinguish and identify the product of one company from that of another. A trademark once registered can be used for lifetime subject to renewal after every 10 years. A person has started a business and has made a great deal of efforts to give a strong foundation to it. The brand and the products have earned goodwill among the consumers. So it is important that the business itself shall reap the benefits of its hard work and creativity and no one else should steal it, hence trademarks.

WHAT IS E-COMMERCE

Electronic commerce is popularly known as e-commerce, which essentially means buying and selling of goods and services online. E-commerce is a very wide term that includes each and everything that is traded online. E-commerce can be bifurcated on the following basis. Firstly, the product they sell e.g. physical products, digital products, and services. Secondly, to whom the products are being sold i.e. Business-to-business (B2B), Business –to the customer (B2C), Business-to-government (B2G). Lastly, the way products are being sold to the customers e.g. branded e-commerce stores like Shopify, e-commerce market places like Amazon and conversational commerce like Facebook, snap chat, etc.

TRADEMARK HURDLES

Now let’s discuss the common mistakes committed by the business owners and marketers which prove to be hurdles for the trademark registration, maintenance, and protection.

1) Choosing a name that is not unique

The band name and its logo are the first things by which the customers recognize a brand so it should be unique and it should not include a superlative or descriptive term as it might pose a problem while obtaining trademark protection. The name or the logo and for that matter, even the slogan associated with the brand should have an impact on the customers throughout its life as ultimately it is the identity of the business. A slogan should be appealing and memorable as it a powerful tool for advertising. It is used to sell the products and services to the customers either online or offline.

Do not use names similar to those of your rivals or competitors in the market as it will hit your reputation in the market and pose problems in trademark protection. The name should not be merely descriptive rather it should be different from the line of business within the industry. For example, ‘Apple’ is a trademark for a company dealing in computers that is completely unique for such types of businesses but on the other hand if you wish to start a business producing fruit juices etc. with trademark as ‘Apple’, then the trademark application might be rejected as it is too generic for this business.

It is always better to settle on some fancy term or word which is completely made up, which does not have any dictionary meaning as such. The term should be something unrelated. Consider the most-recognized brands of today such as Kodak or Sony.

A logo is essential for your e-commerce brand as it is an important part of your legal marketing strategy. But foremost, it is advised to protect the name and then allocate the funds to logo protection as registering the name gives the broadest level of protection whereas the logo is only a graphical combination and gives limited protection.

Identifying the target audience is also an important task as ultimately your logo has to reach them so as to make a profitable sale out of your e-commerce business. If the owners are able to identify potential customers, they will be able to chalk out appropriate strategies to lure them.

Though getting a trademark for name and logo is an expensive deal, yet both of them together will help in earning huge profits. Customers recognize the brands with their unique name and logo. It is important to register them as soon as possible i.e. before it is misused by the competitors.

3) Betting the whole brand on a DIY trademark research

Deciding a business name is not an easy process as it is both expensive and time taking. Thorough research is to be done to check the similarity with other registered names so that no conflict arises in the future. Generally, businesses rely on doing the research themselves which is a big mistake and cause loss of funds as well. It is always better to engage an attorney who is able to provide professional searches which is much more comprehensive than what is done by a layman online.

CONCLUSION

To sum up, like other businesses it is important for the e-commerce businesses as well to make their presence felt amongst the customers for this they have to get their names and logo registered as the customers recognize them by these only. Various hurdles cam be encountered during this process but they can be dealt with.

Sheena Gupta is a Law Post Graduate specializing in Corporate Law. She has been a Lawyer, Assistant Professor, and an Academic Writer. She has a flair for writing on contemporary legal topics, Business, and Technology news. Presently, she is associated with quickcompany.in as a Legal writer.

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