There’s a fascinating thread in the Cre8asite Forums entitled “Geico sues Google and Overture” and a specific post in that got me thinking. The author pointed out the importance of defending trademarks, citing Google as an example of a trademark that could lose its status.
There is an important truth there. At the same time, it got me wondering whether trademarks are losing their usefulness as legally protected properties. OK the law is there but can anyone afford to use the protection? The Internet is international, yet trademarks go country by country.
I believe you’ve got to win the battle for people’s minds via the Internet. If you own the word or phrase in a Google search, i.e. you come #1 for the term, then you own the term. It’s very difficult for anyone else to displace you. There’s no word yet for that concept, so I am herein creating the new term, “intermark“.
Trademarks worked well in the “olden days” of the physical world. In a certain country you could register a trademark. This gave you the legal right to use the trademark and prevented others from trying to use the same term. However it’s a very costly burden if you must use the force of law to protect the trademark. The strongest protection of your trademark is to have strong products and associated services that others find hard to duplicate.
The key to successful business is to differentiate your company from the competition. You should have a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) so that you stand out from the crowd. Only a masochist or a loser would try to appear like the strongest competitor around. It’s much better to create your own identity and that is best “packaged” with a strong name or an intermark. Create a name for your company or brand where a search with a major search engine is bound to find you at the #1 position.
That’s not to rule out also getting this name as a trademark, if you have the funds. It’s just an additional way of making other potential competitors aware that this name is already reserved. However if your company name has not proven itself as an intermark, then it’s probably foolish to waste enormous sums on legal actions to defend your trademark.