Intellectual Property Rights and Marketing
Different IP rights may contribute to your marketing strategy in different ways:
A well-crafted mark is often a decisive tool for the success of your SME in the market place. It will enable consumers to distinguish products or services of your SME from those of your competitors and to associate your products or services with desired qualities. Furthermore, it may play an important part in the ability of your product or service to penetrate a new market, especially if care was taken while selecting or creating the mark so that it appeals to the target market. It is crucial that you search for conflicting marks prior to filing an application or using a new mark on your products or services. For this purpose, you may wish to use the services of a competent attorney or agent. This would save your SME from incurring unnecessary expenses if there is already an identical or conflicting mark in the target market (see "Conducting Trademark Searches").
The use of a collective mark (by a cooperative or an association of enterprises) allows the member SMEs to benefit from a reputation acquired on the basis of the common origin or other common characteristics of the goods produced or services rendered by different enterprises. This is, particularly, the case where the origin or other common characteristics are the main contributing factor in determining the quality or good taste of a product or service. The use of a collective mark may foster an alliance or facilitate cooperation with other SMEs so as to take full advantage of common resources.
In today's highly competitive global economy, a visually attractive design alone may enable you to captivate a demanding and extremely diversified clientele. Through creative designs, your SME could reach out to and appeal to diverse groups of customers from different age groups, regions, cultures, etc. Having design rights on an attractive shape or style of a product may give you the much-needed edge over the competition.
Inherent in certain products from a particular region are characteristics that are due to the soil, climate or particular expertise of the people of that area which consumers of those products expect and have confidence in. Capitalizing on that reputation for your products that emanate from such area or benefit from such skills in your marketing strategy makes sound business sense in differentiating your products from those of others. It is important to note that in the case of such products, your SME must maintain the standards and quality expected of goods produced in that region or with such expertise. See link for more information on geographical indications.
The market for your newly introduced product can effectively be protected by obtaining patent protection. Being a patent holder can also open other business avenues such as licensing or strategic alliances (see "How do you Turn Inventions Into Profit-making Assets of Your SME").
Effective utilization of utility models, where such protection is available, can help your SME stay abreast of its competitors. If strategically used, the protection of utility models can be an effective tool in positioning your SME in the marketplace especially if your SME is active in a business where technological advantage plays an important role in determining who holds a larger share of the market. By paying close attention to your competitors' products and their promise of benefits, you can always improve products of your SME in order to provide the same or even greater benefits and protect your innovation as utility models, especially if the criteria of patentability are not fully met.