Proactive Trademark Practices for Companies – Part 10 Leveraging Trademark Assets

Leverage Trademark Assets

Forward-looking companies think about and manage IP assets such as trademarks as they do any other business asset, and are much more creative and aggressive in generating value from these assets. Trademarks have the potential to generate significant amounts of revenue for companies that know how to use what they own strategically and effectively. If you have not caught the vision that IP assets can be an important part of your company’s balance sheet and should be carefully protected and maintained, then take steps now to leverage more value from your IP assets. Realize that there are more options than just using trademarks defensively.

1. Licensing

Through a proactive licensing program, companies are able to exploit and generate additional revenue from existing trademark assets, especially trademarks that were pursued with an eye toward their business licensing potential. Additional value that is often overlooked exists in extensions of the initial trademark assets to new products or services through creative licensing. Often, no additional expenditures are required; just brainstorming by those familiar with the trademark assets and business goals of the company. For example, companies like Harley Davidson have put their trademarks on clothing, bags, Ford trucks, motorcycle-related accessories, and other secondary items and have obtained additional revenue and also extended their brand identity in the process.

2. Exclusive Market Positioning

Starting a company is hard, and small and sometimes even medium sized companies have difficulties making their mark. Trademarks make up part of the foundation upon which they can successfully build and grow their companies. Trademarks also help distance a company from its competitors. Even if a company cannot be readily distinguished from its competitors based upon its technology, a strong brand identity can offer the company a significant advantage. For example, just look at the uphill battle Microsoft, Yahoo and Ask face as they try to tap into the extraordinary pulling power of the Google brand identity.

3. Negotiating

Companies that have a detailed understanding of the attributes and value of their trademark assets can have significant advantages in the context of negotiating Mergers and Acquisitions, Joint Ventures, spin-offs, and other business transactions.