Our Conversation with Startup Founders from TechCrunch Early Stage
Last week, Brainbase Co-founder and CEO Nate Cavanaugh addressed a virtual audience of hundreds of startup founders at TechCrunch Early Stage. His presentation focused on a too-often overlooked, yet critical part of a new company’s success: The importance of naming and protecting your IP, especially trademarks.
“Your trademarks are your brand’s most valuable assets. There’s no reason not to own them.”Nate Cavanaugh, Co-founder and CEO, Brainbase
As a startup founder himself, Nate spoke from personal experience. If you couldn’t make it to the TechCrunch event, we’ve outlined a quick recap below.
Here are the top reasons startup founders should prioritize naming and protecting their trademarks and IP:
You’ll Skip a Rebrand Down the Road
Too often, companies don’t check to see if their brand or product name is available to be trademarked before it’s too late. If someone already holds the trademark of your company’s name, marketing your company may be difficult. You may even find yourself changing your company name later on down the road…when it’s often more expensive and time-consuming to do so.
Benefits of Brand Equity and Identity
As the value of your company grows, so does the value of your IP. A trademark ensures you get to keep that value tied to your company name! Your brand’s name and visual identity make it easier for customers to remember you and seek you out. It also represents how your company is viewed at market.
When you own the trademarks to your company’s name, products, and IP, it’s your exclusive right to use those trademarks. (Of course, this applies only to the countries you filed the trademarks in.) This is the foundation of your brand recognition and equity, and it represents exclusivity rights. This is important to prevent counterfeiters and copycats, and also gives you legal rights to the name, which can help prevent consumer confusion.
In addition, trademarking sooner rather than later is worth it. Trademarks never expire, as long as you continue to renew them every ten years.
The Key to Successful Fundraising
The foundation of pitching your startup is pretty simple: Investors want to know what your business is, and what it does. Protecting your IP shows you’re clear and confident in your brand identity. It shows you’ve actively taken steps to protect and increase your brand’s worth.
As an investor, why would you invest money into a company whose brand identity could be easily compromised by counterfeiters and competitors, hard for customers to find and recognize, or potentially even already be trademarked by someone else? Make your startup an easy investment by asserting your worth and taking your own recognition seriously.
Licensing and Additional Revenue Streams
For some startups, licensing may seem too far away to consider at the moment. However, neglecting to own your trademarks limits how far the conversation about licensing or branded collaborations can venture when that day eventually comes. Again, your trademarks are your company’s most valuable assets. Controlling their use and protection puts you in the driver’s seat when it comes to when and how they’re used, both now, and in the future.
Remember, trademarks never expire (so long as you continue to renew them). Securing your trademarks ensures that when your company moves into licensing, your brand is ready to go.
When done effectively, licensing is also an easy and efficient way to create additional revenue streams for your business. It’s also a great way to collaborate with other brands and form partnerships.
Likewise, some brands find themselves expanding into other verticals with their licensing. This is often easier to do once you already own trademarks and are building brand equity.
In conclusion, owning your own trademarks as a startup not only ensures current brand protection, but the advantages as your company begins to grow are tenfold.
Follow The Brainbase Blog for more industry analysis, intellectual property tips, and information about our IP licensing products suite. We currently offer Brainbase Assist, a platform to unify your global licensing operations. Our two newest products are coming soon.