Category Archives: Business

Choosing a new brand name

There are many types of brand names which do not qualify for trade mark registration and these include “descriptive” trademarks. A trade mark is considered descriptive if it has a meaning which will be immediately perceived by consumers as providing information about the goods and services on offer. For example, the mark DetergentOptimiser was refused registration for washing machines (laundry machines / dishwashing machines), the mark ELITEPAD was refused registration in respect of tablet computers and the mark Original Eau de Cologne was refused registration for cologne.

 

All of these trademarks provide immediate information about the goods being sold. The rationale behind forbidding registration of descriptive trademarks is that purely descriptive terms should be left available for all traders to use. However, it should be noted that trademarks which are merely suggestive of the goods or services are generally protectable.

 

Trade marks which attribute quality or excellence to the products or services on offer are also unregistrable because they are considered descriptive in a laudatory sense. Examples of laudatory terms include “Finest”, “Prime” and “Deluxe”. The reluctance to permit registration of laudatory trademarks is based on the belief that the customer will view the mark as a promotional or advertising term which describes positive aspects of the goods, rather than as a trade mark denoting trade source.

 

If a brand owner is concerned that its trade mark could be refused registration because it is descriptive / laudatory, the crucial question is whether the mark provides immediate information about the goods or services of interest.

 

If there is no direct and concrete connection then the mark should be able to be registered. Therefore, brand owners should make efforts to adopt brand names which are distinctive and do not describe characteristics of the goods or services e.g. Amazon for books, Starbucks for coffee or Apple for electronic goods. Non-descriptive trademarks are generally the most desirable brands and are much easier to protect and enforce than descriptive names.

How to be Good at Online Customer Service

1. Add an FAQ page

You already know which questions come up again and again. Answer them once and for all on your website by creating a frequently asked questions (FAQs) page. Update this page regularly to keep up with the latest developments and to answer timely questions.

2. Review your website navigation

Maybe you already have plenty of information on your site, but no one can find it. If you use a creative, nonstandard navigation scheme, take a look at your web analytics to see if that is preventing people from finding the information they need. Even if you use standard navigation, check your labels. Are they clear and accurate?

3. Add a video demonstration

If you’re spending a lot of time on the phone giving directions on how to use your product, a video demonstration could save time. And because nothing beats a visual demonstration, an online video will be more helpful to your customers than a phone conversation with you.

4. Offer Internet-only sales

Take a page from the airlines’ book, and offer lower prices for customers who purchase online. Or, offer online-only sales to encourage people to buy online rather than calling or visiting your store. Financially, this strategy makes sense because buying online does not use your staff resources they way an in-person or telephone sale does. And, a lower online rate helps defray the cost of shipping, which is one reason many customers prefer to shop in person.

5. Utilise your social channels

These days, people are very content to engage with a business on social media to get to the bottom of their issues. Instead of leaving an email or making a call, why not enquire on an open platform like Facebook or Twitter – you might even find your answer on a business’ profile already.

How to making adjustments

Since retiring from rugby nearly five years ago, David has embarked on a career in business, opening a number of vintage style sweet shops in the Munster region. During the AIB Start-up Academy Summits, David stopped by to discuss his transition from the rugby pitch to the boardroom.

Moving from a career in rugby to a career in business must have been a culture shock. How did you adjust?

“I would say I’m still adjusting, four years on! I suppose I threw myself into everything that came my way, which was good and bad in equal measures! I think coming from a professional environment helped, because you’re used to working so hard and you have all that energy to put into something else. I was just eager to start my new career.

I threw myself into a few things after I retired from playing, which was a fantastic learning curve for me. Even simple things like getting out and meeting people was brilliant, because you are in a bit of a bubble when you’re playing professional rugby. It was a great experience at the time and very refreshing too.”

Some Tips for Success

With decades of experience and success between them, Bill Wolsey, Eleanor McEvoy, Caroline Wilson and Diane Roberts shared the following advice:

 

Important Traits for Entrepreneurs

I think the key traits needed for success are honesty, tenacity, stamina and luck. Lots of entrepreneurs want to be the best at what they do. When international hoteliers come to Belfast, I think I can compete with them and beat them, I don’t fear them. I started out with one pub, and now we’re one of the biggest hospitality groups in the 32 counties. I never thought that would have happened, but when you get good people working for you, they drive you on. Bill Wolsey, Hotelier and Founder of the Beannchor Group

 

Learning Lessons and Facing Fears

I’ve built and sold two businesses and I’m on to my third now. Every day is like a school day and that never changes. The day you think you know everything is the day you’re going to sink. The bad days will help you survive. You have to look at them, learn from them and then put them to one side and move on. ‘Fear the fear and do it anyway’, because we all get scared in business, but we ignore it. Eleanor McEvoy, CEO, Budget Energy

Driving Yourself On

I’ve had to compare myself with myself! There wasn’t a Food Tour in Belfast before I started out, so there was nobody to compare myself with. If you wanted an easy life, you wouldn’t start a business. There’s something to be said for achieving something every day for yourself and also being the master of your own destiny. For me, it’s not about money, it’s about growing something special. Caroline Wilson, Founder, Belfast Food Tour

 

Mentorship and Encouragement

I think mentors have incredible power. I always encourage start-ups to get in touch with me. It’s always nice to get an email! When I was growing up, I was told, ‘get a good degree and you’ll get a good job’. Then I was told, ‘get a good suit and you’ll get a better job’. I don’t think anyone ever said to me, ‘you could be an entrepreneur’. Nowadays, when I speak to young people, I say, ‘why don’t you create your own business?’ Diane Roberts, Managing Partner, Xcell Partners

 

If you are seeking business advice, why not request a business customer appointment, or check out MyBusinessToolkit, to help get your business off the ground – available free to any new business customer opening an AIB Start-up Current Account between 1st October 2015 and 31st March 2017.

Strategy for your business

In today’s modern and fast paced consumer society, the importance of brands cannot be underestimated. Never before has there been such a vast choice of products and services on offer to consumers across the world. When a company devises a new product, part of the creative and marketing process involves constructing a brand or trade mark for that product, writes David Flynn of FRKelly.

A trademark helps to separate similar products sold by competing companies and helps customers to remember a certain product.

Customers who are satisfied with a particular product link the trademark of that product with reliability and quality. This creates trust and means that in the future the customer will make repeat purchases of goods sold under that trademark. What this means for businesses is that trademarks are extremely important marketing tools and can add substantial value to a company and its products. Before adopting and using a new trademark, a company needs to have a clear strategy of how it intends to protect that trademark and prevent others from using it.

 

Searching Strategy

It is all well and good developing a new brand but a company needs to ensure that the trade mark is available and is not being used for a similar product by a competing company. It is crucial to conduct a search of the relevant trademark registers to ensure a third party has not already registered your trademark.

A comprehensive trade mark search requires specialist software as well as an understanding of trade mark law. A simple internet search is not sufficient. A trademark practitioner can review the results of a trademark search and give a good indication of whether a mark is available to use and register.

Business involves risk and while a trademark search is not infallible, it helps a company assess the risk posed by adopting a particular trademark. If a company launches a new product on the market without undertaking a search, there is a real chance somebody else has exclusive rights to use that trademark. This can have serious and severe commercial repercussions for the business such as a total re-brand, the granting of a court injunction to stop using the mark, damages and whole product lines having to be destroyed. A trademark search helps to reduce the risk of this happening.

 

Filing Strategy

Before launching, a business needs to be sure what territories it will be selling its products in. There are different registration systems available to secure trademark rights. For example, it is possible to register your mark on a country-by-country basis by filing national trademark applications, e.g. if you only want to protect your mark in Ireland, then you can register your mark by filing an Irish trademark application.

If you will be exporting to Europe, a very cost effective option of securing EU-wide trade mark rights is by registering your mark as a European Union Trade Mark. This gives you exclusive trademark rights in all 28 EU member states. There is also the option of the International Trade Mark System. This allows a company to protect its trademark in over 98 territories by simply filing one application and selecting the individual countries it wants its International Trade Mark to cover.

The cost depends on the number of territories selected. An International trademark also allows a company to manage their portfolio of marks through one centralized system.

It is also a good idea for a company to register its trademark in the country where their goods are being manufactured. Sometimes a foreign manufacturer contracted to produce branded goods for a particular company will go ahead and register the trademark themselves. This means that the manufacturer holds the trademark rights and could even prevent the company which hired it from using the mark in that country. Therefore, a company should secure its trademark rights before entering a deal with a particular manufacturer or company, especially abroad and in countries which are intellectual property abuse hotspots (such as china).

If a company’s goods are likely to be counterfeited, then it is wise for the business to register its trade marks with customs. Customs will seize any goods it suspects are counterfeit and will seek confirmation from the business owner whether the goods are genuine or fake.

 

Watch and Enforcement Strategy

Once a trademark is registered, a company must maintain the exclusivity of its trade mark to prevent damage to its brand. Monitoring tools such as trademark watches mean that a trade mark owner is notified when somebody else tries register a similar trademark. This allows the trade mark owner to identify potential infringers so that the company can enforce its rights. This can prevent or halt customer confusion, loss of sales or damage to a company’s brand. Trade mark watches are an invaluable tool in policing a company’s trade mark.

 

How trademarks help your business

Having a clear trademark strategy helps a company focus their efforts on protecting their brand. It means a business owner will be able to gauge the availability of a particular trademark. A trademark strategy provides a blueprint for how and where the company can obtain exclusive rights to use a particular trademark. It gives the company an outline of how they will police and enforce their trademark rights.