Here are some rules that can help your Brand to be protected.
As I am from France, I really know that in Europe the law is very strong to protect the Branding of a company; this includes the Name, the Logotype and also the products (images, sketches etc). Even a Web address can be protected against stealing!
In China, Hong Kong, it's a bit more... Complicated. You have to be aware of your products image and find some "tricks" to protect them from being copied. It's not a secret that you can find any fake products easily in Asia... Fake Vuitton bags, ****, Dior, watches , etc., etc. It's because people are not aware yet of what could be "bad" behind this copyright violation... Because you just want this pretty Vuitton bag and after all, you don't really care WHO is behind this market... Who is behind the factory that is creating these bags? Who do they employ to do it and at which salary... Yes, it's... Complicated.
And it could be more complicated when you put your products on the net... In doing it, you know that anyone in the world can copy it, modify it , etc. Advantages and disadvantage of the World Wide Web!
Nevertheless, you can try to protect your brand!
1. Learn that a trademark protects your brand name, or any sign or symbol that allows your customers to differentiate you from your competitors. You can register a name, logo, slogan or strap line.
2. Make sure that your trademark should be distinctive for the goods and services you sell and not be similar or identical to any earlier marks for the same goods or services.
3. Understand that if your trademark meets these requirements, you should consider applying for a registered trademark. Once your trademark is registered, you usually have to renew it every 10 years to keep it in force
> Benefits of a registered trademark Registering your trademark gives you the exclusive right to use your mark for the goods and services that it covers in the country(where the trademark is registered). It also gives you the right for preventing others to use an identical or similar mark in the same category of goods or services.
> Functions of a Trademark The trademark identifies the goods properly. It guarantees the unchanged quality of the goods, creates an image in the minds of the consumers and helps in advertising the goods.
1- There are lawyers and companies specialized in copyright protection here in Hong Kong. When you have created a product (could be anything, image, photo, logo etc), you just have to provide this material to the lawyer who will register it. That doesn't mean nobody can steal it. It means this product “a” belongs to you, then you can (try to) sue the people who are "breaking" the law. At least you are registered!
A lot of companies are specialists of online brand protection on the net, just Google for a search and try to find a serious one. Generally they can provide a bunch of services like:
- Safeguards organizations from the unauthorized use of trademarks or intellectual property attached to the corporate brand or name
- Verifies compliance with brand standards
- Identifies risks or inappropriate online connections
- Minimizes threats from individuals and organizations that seek to profit by violating and compromising:
ªCorporate identities online
- Minimizes the occurrence of online infractions that have the potential to negatively impact an organization’s market perception.
Just some companies picked up at random on the net: (China market)
2 - Then you can add another protection from CREATIVE COMMONS , Creative Commons is a world system to protect or to share your work. They opened a Hong Kong office sometime ago. Basically, you use CC in creating a link between your product online and a contract (by CC). Then you are saying that this “a” product, again, is yours.
3- Then the little “tricks”! Of course the basic ones is to create a Watermark and use it on ALL the pictures of your products online. If you are sharing photos, especially if you will be posting them online or emailing them, you never know what will happen to them. Someone could take the photos for their own use, and you might never even know. These are good links to help you to know everything about How To watermark your projects:
> http://cameras.about.com/od/printing/ss/watermark_2.htm (finding a watermark software)
> http://picmarkr.com/ (Free watermark online)
> http://www.watermarkfactory.com/products.htm (Software, try or buy)
You also can watermark your images in Photoshop, the image editing software. This watermark can be “invisible”, hidden into the picture.
These are the first steps to protect your branding image...