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8 Ways Trade Marks Protect Sustainable Brands

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The world is becoming increasingly aware of environmental issues. Consequently, the demand for sustainable and eco-friendly products is continuing to increase. Due to this, trade marks are becoming even more crucial for businesses committed to developing environmentally friendly goods. In addition to the benefits that trade marks provide for businesses, they can also protect your sustainability efforts. This article will take you through eight ways trade marks protect sustainable brands.

1. Distinctive Branding

The core principle of a trade mark is to allow businesses to register distinct elements of their brand associated with specific goods or services. Through this process, a business obtains the exclusive rights to their trade mark. This registration then protects third parties seeking to infringe on these exclusive rights.

In the context of sustainable businesses, a registered trade mark prevents imitation from those seeking to take advantage of the reputation of eco-friendly brands. Trade mark registration helps to protect the distinct identity that comes with your business’ commitment to environmental responsibility.

2. Prevention of Greenwashing

One of the significant challenges sustainable brands face is the rise in ‘greenwashing’. Greenwashing refers to businesses falsely claiming or implying they are committed to environmentally friendly practices. For example, consider a business selling a standard plastic water bottle with green imagery. This green imagery is a marketing technique to create an impression of being environmentally friendly. Such a business would be accused of greenwashing. 

However, a registered trade mark will help demonstrate a brand’s commitment to authenticity. Over time, this mark will become synonymous with your business’ reputation as being genuinely committed to sustainability.

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3. Build Consumer Trust

Consumer trust is one of the keys to success for all businesses. In the case of sustainable brands, the visibility of a registered mark serves as a visual cue for consumers seeking eco-friendly products. The familiarity of a trade mark allows these consumers to make informed choices about where to purchase their goods or services.

If someone infringes on your mark, the trade mark system provides a way to stop this from occurring. For example, legal action might include: 

The ability to enforce your trade mark rights helps ensure that your brand identity remains intact. Again, this will protect your reputation and its commitment to sustainability.

5. Brand Recognition

A registered trade mark enhances brand recognition. In an oversaturated market, a distinct trade mark sets a sustainable brand apart, making it easier for consumers to identify and choose eco-friendly options. This recognition is critical for sustainable businesses aiming to establish themselves as leaders in the market for environmentally conscious goods.

6. Licensing Opportunities

Sustainable brands with registered trade marks can consider licensing opportunities as part of their strategic growth initiatives. Licensing allows businesses to authorise third parties to use their trade mark under pre-established terms. This approach allows sustainable brands to extend their influence and promote their environmental values while maintaining some control over how their mark is associated with other goods or services.

7. International Protection

New Zealand’s trade mark system helps facilitate streamlined international protection. International protection is particularly relevant for sustainable brands with aspirations to expand globally without wanting to dilute their message. 

To register your New Zealand trade mark overseas, you can consider either: 

  • filing an application through the Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks. This system allows you to extend your trade mark protection to multiple countries in a single application; or
  • engage with the intellectual property offices in the individual countries of interest to you.  

A key component of New Zealand’s trade mark landscape is that it is always evolving. As the concept of sustainable practices continues to grow, the trade mark system is well-equipped to accommodate new trade mark classes that suit this growth. 

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Key Takeaways

The demand for sustainable and eco-friendly products is continuing to increase, such that trade marks are crucial for businesses committed to developing environmentally friendly goods. Some of the key ways trade marks protect sustainable brands include:

  • providing distinctive branding;
  • helping to prevent greenwashing;
  • facilitating consumer trust in eco-friendly brands;
  • providing an avenue for legal action;
  • enhancing brand recognition;
  • facilitating licensing opportunities; 
  • providing opportunities for international trade mark protection; and
  • being well-equipped to adapt to emerging trends.

If you need assistance understanding how a trade mark can benefit your sustainable business, our experienced trade mark lawyers can assist as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. Call us today on 0800 005 570 or visit our membership page.

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