I had a lovely 10 day trip to Australia earlier this month, it was super. No, this isn’t a blog about my holiday – it is about the most extraordinary business I got to meet and see first hand while I was there. I was inspired and heartbroken at the same time. The moral of the story is why protecting your brand is so important so read on my friend…
On the 20 cent tour of The Gold Coast with my family, we fell upon this little factory in Miami QLD. You might have heard of them, Ugg. What a beautiful shop, we got to meet some of the team and have a sneak peek at our custom Uggs being made (not to mention my little Biscuit’s custom Ugg coat which is adorable). What I learned was unspeakable…
I hate to burst your bubble but, your Ugg boots are not Ugg boots!
Ugg, you’ve heard of them, you remember the craze, what’s the deal. Well, I was shocked, I nearly fell over when I learned what the deal was…. What you, like myself, might not realise is that there have been legal battles over the ownership of the UGG name. A household term in Australia, being handmade by a family business since 1974 and when Ugg boots began their rise to fame a California based company took advantage and trademarked the name in 1999. That’s right, this big American business with deep pockets trademarked UGG in the USA, European Union, China etc. Taking away 174 country markets from the good old Australian family business who’ve been making Ugg boots since 1974. So if you’ve bought sheepskin boots that happened to be called Uggs from anywhere other than Australia, they are really Deckers boots aka counterfeits and you’re supporting a multi-billion dollar bully.
From surviving recessions, a gargantuan trademark battle and cheap knock-offs, this little company in Queensland Australia is very much alive and kicking. They’re incredibly proud of their product, their Australian materials, craftsmanship and the love they put into the designs and products. With Christmas coming up, if you want to get your paws on some real Ugg boots then please check out the legit website Ugg Australian Made. You can read their story and find out about the Australian Made campaign while you’re there.
Before you go, let’s talk about protecting your brand and please don’t think that it’s not important… it really is and don’t let anyone pull the wool over your eyes.
Three things you should do to start protecting your brand right now
With great success comes an even greater threat, get ahead and make sure that you ensure your success by protecting your brand.
1. Make sure you have copyrights, trademarks and ownership
Before you can trademark something, you need to make sure you own the intellectual property to your designs, logo and creative assets. Then it’s time to protect your brand name, product name, designs with the appropriate copyright or trademarks. You don’t want to end up like the real Ugg who can’t market their products in 174 countries because someone has stolen your identity!
It really is easy, you can get the help of a lawyer or you can do this yourself online for a relatively low cost. Here’s a great resource on how to register a trademark.
2. Claim your name online
Particularly if you’re a startup, once you’ve chosen your brand name or product names you need to get your domain name and as many variations as you can, claim your social media handles and any direct listings that will be relevant to you.
Bid on your brand name on Google pay per click campaigns. Although Google does allow competitors to bid on your brand name as a keyword, they’re not allowed to use it in the copy of the advert. Make sure yours is at the top.
3. Get Legal Eagle
Should the day come when it’s time to sell your incredibly valuable brand, you need to make sure that all contractors, employees have signed agreements that include intellectual property protection. Make sure that you have and have kept good records of non-disclosure agreements and save yourself some major brand agony in the future.
If someone has used your brand mark, make sure you send out ‘cease and desist’ letters and take down notices. It’s important to police and protect your mark.
Copying and passing off has been a big topic of discussion in our studio this week, we hope this has been some food for thought for you too. We don’t believe everyone is bad and that people are out to get you but believe in your brand and when it’s worth a lot you’ll have saved yourself a whole lot of heartache by getting it protected as early as possible.
Now, go buy some real Ugg boots!