What’s In A Name?

Whats-In-A-NameQuestion: What is the most valuable brand in the world?

Answer: Apple – calculated to be worth in excess of £100 billion

Using the ball-park calculations from my blog Making Sense of Huge Numbers, if each one of us in the UK put £1,500 into a pot, we still wouldn’t be able to afford to buy the Apple name.

According to Forbes the top three brands in the world are now all technology companies – Apple, Microsoft and Google.  The 4th position is held by Coca Cola but its value is reckoned to be less than half that of Apple.

Bare in mind that we are not talking about the value of the company assets or its products, we are considering only the value of its name.  We are told that top brand names are so valuable because they are known and trusted by millions of people but what is to stop anyone cashing in on a brand name and using it to promote their own products?  The answer is civil law.

Before your entrepreneurial youngster develops a new computer game and calls it the “Apple Minecraft Supergame” it might be a good idea to explain the implications of civil law…

If you ride your cycle on the pavement or you deface a road-sign then you will be in breach of criminal law and you might well get a letter to tell you that you have broken the law.  You might also be told that you are expected to appear in court to answer the charge.  But if you use the Apple or the Minecraft name when you shouldn’t then criminal law is not really interested.  The view of the justice system is that it is a matter to be decided between you and the offended party; that’s when civil law steps in.

Apple and Minecraft would be more than a little annoyed that you had the temerity to use their name in vain.  They (or their lawyers) would write to you to tell you to cease using the name immediately and they might also tell you that they were intending to start legal proceedings against you to claim damages.  Ultimately this could lead to court proceedings with you on one side and Apple and Minecraft on the other.  Not a good idea when you consider that you would probably be stacked-up against the best lawyers in the world.

Names and logos are all part of the all-encompassing term of Intellectual Property Rights and companies will go to almost any length to protect their IPR.  In 2010 a Czech brewer ultimately won a court battle to defend its “Budweiser” name that had rumbled-on through the courts for 14 years.

Don’t think that the prospect of a 14-year lawsuit has deterred companies from taking action – search Google for “Adidas lawsuits” to see the courtroom activities that are currently engaging the minds of the Adidas lawyers.

Tell your youngsters that by far the best policy is to invent their own brand name. Remember that 20 years ago, nobody in their right mind would have thought it possible that in 2016 the word “Google” would be worth a cool £40 billion!

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