Future-Proof Your Business

Future-Proof Your Business

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Trademarks are one of your most valuable assets, if not the most valuable. Every business has them, but many don’t take care of them. This is Part 1 of a 4-part series exploring what every business owner should know about trademarks.

  • Part 1 – Trademark Value
  • Part 2 – How to Protect Your Trademarks
  • Part 3 – How to Choose Strong Valuable Trademarks
  • Part 4 – How to Maintain Your Trademarks

Trademarks are synonymous with brands. These terms can be used interchangeably. Trademark Law is the area of law that protects your brand.

“Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business.” ~ Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor in Chief of Forbes Media.

“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things.” ~ Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon.

When people do business with you, they think about your brand, your company name, your products names, and your services names. They know what to expect. And when they get good results, they want more. They want to refer people to you because they got good results. That’s the goodwill associated with your trademark, your brand. It’s an invisible asset of your business, and it has tremendous value.

Forbes magazine recently commented that over the last decade, the value of businesses has shifted from physical assets like real estate, equipment, and factories to intangible assets. And intangible assets are primarily made up of intellectual property: trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and patents. And of those, your trademark is likely the most valuable.

In my opinion trademarks are largest contributor to value in most businesses. Recently, Ocean Tomo, an intellectual property valuation firm in Chicago, issued a report regarding business value. They found that intangible assets are now commanding 90% of the S&P 500 market value. Even if you question that number, and believe it’s more like 75%, 50%, even 30% of the value of your business, it’s still a big number. It’s an asset that needs attention.

I’ve seen the value that trademarks provide during mergers and acquisitions.  Most acquirers of businesses are looking for strong IP portfolios that include strong, well-protected trademarks. Many make it clear that the reason they’re paying a premium is the strong brand recognition. Equipment, real-estate, even employees, can all be replaced. Typically, the leadership team is replaced within two years after the sale. But the business goodwill under the brand, protected by trademarks, can’t be easily replaced. As Jeff Bezos said, “You earn reputation.”

In each of these situations, the companies being purchased commanded a higher value because of their trademarks, and because they had taken the proper steps to protect those trademarks.  Purchasers were confident that they were purchasing protected assets that could continue to grow in value. Assets protected not just in the United States, but in other countries as well.

That’s what we’re going to talk about in Part 2, how to protect these amazing, valuable and attractive assets.

If you want to talk about your trademarks or if you have questions, please give me a call at 248-433-7381.  I’d be happy to talk to you.


Bill Honaker, The IP Guy

About the Author:

Bill Honaker, “The IP Guy” is a former USPTO Examiner, a partner with Dickinson-Wright, and author of the forthcoming book, Invisible Assets – How to Maximize the Hidden Value in Your Business. To download a sample chapter, click here.

To get answers to your questions click here. To schedule a time to talk, you can access my calendar by clicking here, email Bill@IPGuy.com, or call me at 248-433-7381.


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