Your brand – the most valuable asset your company owns

A company’s most valuable property is its brand as trademark lawyer, Bernard Whyatt (pictured), of Brand Protect explains.

As specialists in trade mark law, we are often asked about the value of different types of intellectual property. Without doubt, the most valuable asset most companies own is their brand.

Some may say that a patent is a valuable asset – and for many pharmaceutical or technology-based companies, patents are important. However, they are depreciating assets because as each day passes, the value of the patent reduces as all patents have a finite life.

This is not the case with brands. The more and longer you use a brand, the more valuable the brand becomes. Some brands claim they have acted as ‘badges of origin’ for hundreds of years. For example, Stella Artois claims to have been a brand since 1366.

In the UK, you can protect a brand using the tort of passing off. However, to do this is very expensive. The most cost effective way of protecting a brand is to register it as a trademark. The first registered trademark in the world was the ‘Bass beer red triangle’ registered in 1866, which is still valid.

Registration of a trademark affords the owner of that sign the right to prevent anyone else, not having his licence or consent, to use an identical or similar mark.

However – and of much greater importance to the franchisor – on registration a trademark becomes ‘an item of property’. This means the owner of a trademark can do everything with a trademark that they can do with, for example, their house.

The owner of a house can:

  • Rent out the house or part of it e.g. a room. The owner of a trademark can similarly license all or part of the rights of their trademark. They could license all the territory, or part of it, for the whole of the period of registration, or just part of it. The owner of the trademark can also license some or all of the goods and services for which the mark is registered.
  • The owner of a house can mortgage or charge the house to a bank. Similarly, the owner of a trademark can raise capital and pledge the trademark to a bank by way of a mortgage or a charge on those assets.
  • The owner of a house can buy or sell it. In the same way, a trademark owner can buy or sell trademarks.
  • If the owner of a house does not look after that house it will fall down. In the same way, failure to look after or to abuse a trademark will lead to devaluation in the value of that asset.

With proper use and nurture of your brand it could be worth the value of Coca Cola ($70 billion) or McDonald’s ($34 billion). The only way to gain the rights of property ownership of a brand is to register it as a trademark.

Bernard Whyatt is a Trade Mark Lawyer at Brand Protect Ltd, a niche law firm that offers advice and assistance on all aspects of trademarks law and practice, especially those of concern to franchisors. With its breadth of knowledge the company is able to advise, not only on the creation of the intellectual property but also on how to retain it. Brand Protect LLP regularly fights for the rights of franchisors in the courts and its clients rely on the company to give them best advice on all aspects of IP law in this country and abroad. Brand Protect LLP works ceaselessly for our clients to enable them to protect their brands in this country and abroad.