Intellectual Property Protection: A necessity or a gimmick?

Intellectual Property Protection: A necessity or a gimmick?

If you want the short answer – IP is a necessity.

But to whom?

Well here is a little story:

You start a brand of smartphones. You call the brand Fruit.

Fruit is so good that it obviously poses a problem to your competitors. It is advanced, reliable, flashy, all bells and whistles.

Your competitors are worried.

You invested heavily in Fruit. Manufacturing, marketing, developers, engineers, the works.

Then you become aware of a new smartphone calling itself by which name? Fruit!

You’re livid. Blatant copying of the highest order!

You call the owners of this copycat smartphone. They tell you where to get off.

You send letters. They never respond.

Meanwhile both of you are hitting the market – selling your Fruits like hot cakes.

You want to sue because these people are taking away your customers.

Now as you are about to sue (a right afforded to you by section 34 of your Constitution), you receive a letter:

RE: NOTICE TO CEASE AND DESIST FROM INFRINGEMENT OF TRADEMARK NO. 2023/12345

Dear [Insert Your Name Here]

It has come to our copycat attention that you are selling smartphones by the name of “Fruit”.

This is in violation of our rights to the term “Fruit” as evidenced in the attached proof of registration of the term “Fruit” in our name.

Please stop or else we will take away everything you have.

Your Insincerely,

Copycats-of-Fruit (Pty) Ltd

Allow me to say this: at this point you are stuffed.

You cannot sell that brand without infringing. You cannot advertise, cannot package.

What you may ( and probably will) find yourself embroiled in is a court case in which you are defending. You will argue that you were the first to use the name.

However, trademark ownership is not about who was first to use.

It is about who was first to apply.

Plus, your competitors would probably be giants in the field; therefore you would probably lose all your money trying to defend.

There is also a good chance that they would have got the judge to suspend your business until the final decision.

Ouch.

So I end the story now as so:

Are you a start-up? Do you have a good idea of a brand? Are you setting up?

Good.

Get that brand name or logo or slogan or all of the above registered.

It is a small price to pay for the confidence, assurance and success that you will stand to enjoy.

It is a necessity.