January 29, 2022

THE IMPORTANCE OF PROTECTING YOUR TRADEMARKS AND COPYRIGHT DURING THE COVID 19 PANDEMIC AND RE-ALIGNING YOUR IP STRATEGY

The more the corona virus spreads across borders, the more businesses are being urged to take charge through innovating, protecting and securing the intellectual property rights. Several intellectual property rights, including trademarks, patents, copyright and traditional knowledge systems are some of the IP rights that are relevant during this pandemic going forward for businesses, start-ups, universities and research institutions. Intellectual property talks have never been more relevant than this year, hence this important article regarding these issues.

THE VALUE OF TRADEMARKS IN SMALL TO MEDIUM ENTERPRISES (SMEs)

The registration of trademarks is essential in any start-up, existing and growing business, especially in SMEs. Trademarks are tools for development of brands and this applies to several stakeholders including the business owners, consumers and the state. A trademark distinguishes one enterprise from other competing enterprises for goods and services. Trademarks must be registered in terms of the procedures and laws of each country. The key factors in the mind of the consumer are, ‘Does the consumer identify the product?’ ‘Is the sign recognised by the consumer to whom it is addressed and does it identify the goods from a particular trade source?’ and ‘Is it capable of being recognised?’ 

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a heavy influx of start-ups have emerged which means competition is high and brand visibility becomes crucial. The value of IP is often not adequately appreciated and its potential for providing opportunities for future profit is widely underestimated by SMEs. However, when IP is legally protected and there is demand for the IP-protected products and or services in the marketplace, IP can become a valuable business asset. Some of the opportunities that can be exploited include licensing and franchising.

DIGITAL PERFOMANCES VERSUS COPYRIGHT PROTECTION

Many, if not all, artists and performers have moved to the digital platforms as a means of earning a living whilst entertaining their audience at the same time. Covid 19 has led to the cancellation of all concerts and live performances and this has resulted in most artists suffering, especially in struggling economies where music and art are not fully appreciated. The migration to the internet raises many copyright concerns which should be adhered to and safeguarded from infringement. Copyright infringement will result once an individual uses or exploits the copyright of another without their authority, be it in song, video or lyric format.

A crucial point to note in most jurisdictions is that copyright does not necessarily require registration, as it lies automatically with the copyright owner upon expression of the works in material forms. Because the internet is borderless in nature, most copyright violations occur on the internet because of the failure of online enforcement by most platforms. Therefore, it is essential for all artists to read the fine print of all the platforms they use to ensure that they don’t relinquish their rights to their own content.

Conclusion

In light of the recourses and market opportunities, safeguarding your brand and developing an IP strategy results in the organisation maximising on its asset’s full potential. Even if you cannot or do not want to use the IP rights yourself, bear in mind that third parties may want to use them.

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