While registration isn’t required in order to gain some rights to the name/logo/slogan you want to use, you will not have rights you can monetize until you register with the USPTO. Upon use, the owner technically owns the trademark thanks to common-law protection, which safeguards it locally. For nationwide rights, trademark your goods or services with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). However, it’s critical to know what constitutes use (more on this later). Many companies underestimate the value of their intellectual property (IP) and the potential risks it faces. This is a huge mistake because IP often accounts for a significant portion of a company’s value. Failing to take action to protect it could lead to serious consequences, financial losses, and legal liability.
The good news? Companies can benefit from their IP by using it for internal processes or offering goods and services to customers. Additionally, they can monetize it externally through mechanisms like royalty rights. So, don’t sleep on the power of your IP, or it may cost you big time in the long run.
If you’re a business owner looking to add a bit more value to your company’s estimated value, here are a few ways you can make money from your intellectual property (IP):
First, you can license your trademark to another company so they can use it on specific products or services. This is pretty common – for example, sports teams might let other companies use their team name and mascot on stuff like sports drinks, restaurants, and car washes. Or, celebrities might let their name be used on beauty products or fashion lines.
Another way to make money from your IP is to team up with another company and co-brand your products. This means you each use the other’s strengths and trademarks to create something new. A good example is when Bonne Belle and Dr. Pepper worked together to make a flavored lip gloss, or when Betty Crocker and Hershey’s teamed up on a new brownie flavor. Nike and Apple have also done this, making products for athletes together.
Finally, you can use your trademarks and other IP to get financing through something called securitization. Basically, this means you use the value of your IP to raise money. Similar to taking out a loan, but instead of using credit, you’re using your intellectual property as collateral.
Never forget: every twist and turn of business ownership is an opportunity for a negotiation. Be strategic, remembering that, and putting your company (and yourself) in the best position possible if (or when) the opportunity arises!