What’s Your Global Trademark Strategy?

iTunes is a trademarked brand name; it is also a domain name. So too is iPod and Apple and iMac. When taking brand names such as these global, companies must not only register the trademarks around the world but also register the domain names, and not necessarily in that order. In fact, Apple had to pursue legal means to get access to itunes.co.uk last year.

So it’s very important that companies align their global trademark strategies with their global marketing strategies.

Providing insight into this issue, naming guru Steve Rivkin interviewed Anand Chaturvedi, a marketing manager at Ingersoll-Rand Construction Technologies, a company that manages more than 3,000 trademark registrations around the world.

Recently, Anand overhauled the way the company manages these trademarks around the world — and discovered some markets where some names were not being well protected at all.

How did they get their hands around all these names?

Says Arnand, “We developed a decision tree to objectively classify every trademark in one of the three categories – strategic, support and tactical. Strategic trademarks protect our billion dollar brands. Support trademarks represented sub- brands and provided a customer valued differentiation. Every thing else fell into the third bucket – Tactical marks that either had to go or to be maintained under common law protection for a finite time period.”

It’s a very good strategy. Arnand emphasizes that legal and marketing folks need to work closely on this process. And there is another upside to this process as well — marketing and legal can share the ever-increasing costs of registering and maintaining domain names around the world. I frequently hear from marketing folks who say they simply don’t have the budgets to register domain names across all these countries, but perhaps the legal department can help. It’s better to work together to protect these names today than litigate over them tomorrow.

Here’s the interview

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.