You may be doing some spring cleaning at home or in your yard as the winter seasons fades away. Now that tax season is over, it is a great time to to do some spring cleaning at your business. One project that can pack a big punch in your business is a regular program for brand asset review. Intellectual property is something many business owners forget to treat as a property of the business, leaving it off property inventories and its operating procedures. There are 3 clear benefits to an annual review of your brand assets:
- recording an inventory of your brand assets for your balance sheet and financial related matters
- identifying gaps in coverage so you can be sure you have comprehensive protection of these proprietary assets and you can enforce them against your competitors if a copycat situation arises
- uncovering potential savings in your maintenance program by identifying duplicate registrations or assets that you are no longer using that can be abandoned or considered for a licensing to others
You can do a “ spring cleaning” of your brand as set by following these five easy steps:
- Audit your brand assets. Make a spreadsheet or list of all of your trade names, beverage names, proprietary slogans, unique packaging design, logos, label images, mascots/characters and signature menu item names. Then create a column to state whether it has been registered as a trademark, registered as a copyright, and for labels: received necessary state and federal label approval. Two more columns you might consider adding: Do you have the registration certificate in your files? When is the renewal due?
- Add two columns for where the brand asset is used – where the product is sold and promoted ( states, countries) and whether it protected in these territories
- Add two columns for whether that brand asset has been licensed and whether you have the written license agreement on file. Have you audited to be sure you have collected all of the royalties due? Have you audited the licensee’s use of the mark to be sure it is correct and acceptable?
- Add a column for strategy. Is the protection adequate? Do you need to expand protection? Can you let this protection go? Have you policed this asset recently to uncover potential competitor problems? Should you put it on a watch list monitored by a third party? Is there a licensing opportunity there?
- Add a column for action items or status to document your next best move for each brand asset.
Once created, this brand asset inventory will be easy to update on a periodic basis – at least annually. For busy portfolios, quarterly review may be more appropriate. This is a great way to manage one of the largest items on your balance sheet and maximize your goodwill and it dollar value for your bottom line.