26 Aug Protecting Your Franchise’s Intellectual Property
If you are considering setting up a franchise, it’s particularly important to be aware of the need to adequately protect your intellectual property.Intellectual property (IP) includes your brand, and the ideas, concepts and creations that you have thought up that make your business work as well as it does. In today’s competitive climate, protecting your ideas is critical in ensuring that a successful business can become a successful franchise. Here are three things to keep in mind when franchising your business.
1. Get it right from the beginning
Considering starting a franchise can often be the point at which business owners begin to really think about their IP, particularly as it relates to the visibility of their branding. Building up a business and reaching the point where the brand is now recognisable in the marketplace takes time and resources. Moving into franchising the business is a natural time to look for protection in the legal sense of all the hard work you as the business owner has put in. While it can be said that ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’, in the business world, having ideas and established concepts copied (or worse, being accused of copying those belonging to another business) can lead to serious financial and/or legal issues.
Employing the services of a franchising consultant at the outset allows for business owners to take a planned approach to the process of protection, and can help to ensure that important IP issues are not overlooked. Specialist IP lawyers can be called on to ensure appropriate steps are taken to protect a brand’s IP.
2. Why it’s vital
Most business owners have heard of the concepts of copyright, patents and registered trademarks, but few go past checking a business name locally when first setting up their business. When you reach the stage of franchising, it’s prudent to be more thorough. Not only must you take steps to protect your own IP, you also want to be as sure as you can be that you won’t be accused of infringing the IP of another business. There have been a number of cases where Australian small businesses have been forced to change their names due to the threat of legal action over IP issues with a business name protected globally – for a franchise, this type of event would be a disaster.
Take the time to research properly, and seek expert guidance on setting up a franchise from the outset. A good consultant will be able to offer advice and connect you with specialised professionals at the right time, thus saving you time and money.
3. Protecting your franchisees
Prospective franchisees want to feel confident that the business they are considering is properly established. Many look to buy established franchises because they perceive the risk is less than the risk they would face if they set up their own similar enterprise. Quite simply, a franchise with solid IP protection in place makes a more attractive proposition for potential franchisees.