At the Consumer Electronics Show where Apple unveiled the first iPhone, they captured the attention of businesses, consumers and trademark lawyers. As it unfolded back then the rights to the word iPhone where owned by Cisco Systems in the United States. They obtained the trademark back in 2000 when it bought infogear which owned the rights to the name iPhone back in 1996.
In Canada, a company named Comwave Telecom had the rights to the name,e iPhone for use of its voice over internet services.
Apple was aware of Cisco System’s trademark which raised the question why they would move forward with a name that was already registered by another company.
The Importance of Trademarks
To add on to the importance of trademarks, in December, Research in Motion of Blackberry sued Samsung over trademark infringement of a smartphone. The Samsung phone was to be called “BlackJack” which was introduced through Cingular Wireless in the United States.
The Blackberry lawsuit stated that the name of the smartphone was “unfair competition and trademark dilution.”
The media tends to focus on high-profile cases, but trademark infringement also affects small businesses. It is important, before introducing or launching any new product into the market that you do your due diligence. Trademark implications should be of top priority as a business decides to launch or introduce a new product into a market.
Trademarks are maybe the most important assets of any business. Trademarks identify a company and set it apart from all other competitors. Your company’s product, name or service name, slogan, logo or tagline are all trademarks. They all need to be protected by registration. Trademarks secure your company’s goodwill and set a long-lasting symbol.
There are legal steps that can be taken to ensure that your trademarks are ready for use and that you can hinder others from using them or infringing them. The first step is obvious as ensuring that there is no other existing trademark available in your target countries.
A comprehensive search is more effective than a preliminary search. This involves searching the trademark databases of each country you may be wishing to set roots in.
Cases of trademark infringement tend to be long and tedious and may cost you quite a lot of money. Trademarks protect your assets and all your company products and services making the exclusively yours unless you decide to sell the rights.