The talk starts with a thought related to an annual visit to EPHJ, in 2019. There I was surprised at the rarity of exhibitors who have trademarked their company name. By the way, is this really useful? Answers from the master.
By Joël A. Grandjean, editor in chief JSH® Magazine & Swiss Watch Passport
At a Watch Café in Geneva, I asked for help a professional IP lawyer, Marc-Christian Perronnet, a regular visitor to the EPHJ show and therefore also close to the issues around the suppliers. Moreover, he is the advisor of ASMEBI members, the Association Romande des Métiers de la Bijouterie. I know that he is an enthusiast, and also sensitive to the challenges of these behind-the-scenes professions sector, which, if they’re respecting the rules of good-behaviour-in-the-shadow-of-brands, have the right – and in times of crisis the duty – to protect their historical and patrimonial values.
From the point of view of the passionate, perhaps also of the historian, a reputation, a history sometimes more than a hundred years old, in short, a name linked to a socio-cultural context more than to a purely economic equation, simply does not have the right to disappear. And this even if the company that operates it were to face fatal economic difficulties.
Joël A. Grandjean: We often hear suppliers spontaneously say, “We are not a brand!” What does the expert think about this?
Me Marc-Christian Perronnet: That’ s not really true! The name of their company is the one by which their customers and partners know them and differentiate them from their competitors. In this respect, it is already a trademark. Registering the name of a company as a trademark is the best way to dispose of it, to protect it and to valorize it.
There are those who add “we are not selling products“……
It is quite possible to register a trademark for services… Note that all subcontracting activities are protectable!
Then there are those who object: “I don’t sell directly to consumers…”
I reply: you do, however, market your products and services to other companies. Business-to-business activities are protectable by trademark law. It is even more advisable to register your trademark because B2B operations are highly competitive. Registering your trademark can be a real strategic asset for your business.
Some say: “My trademark is already protected by my company name…”
Certainly, but only to a very limited extent! A trade name does not allow you to fully defend yourself against a competitor who uses the name of your company to designate its products and services. Worse, in the absence of protection, you could be limited in your developments in the use of your own name.
Others think they are protected anyway: “My brand is my family name, nobody can take it away from me!”
Wrong! Your family name does not give you an absolute right to use it in a commercial way. Only the registration of your name as a trademark will allow you to use it exclusively to identify your products and services and block your competitors from any fraudulent use of your name!
Marc-Christian Perronnet, attorney in law specialized in intellectual property
A few years ago, this former member of a reputable law firm in Geneva, decided to become independent. Passionate, experienced and trained, with a rare sense of discernment, he is giving confidence to more and more players in the watchmaking industry. While it is possible for anyone to register a brand name online, at an affordable price, on the IPI website (swissreg.ch), which even offers a list of providers, wise practice is highly recommended. When to do it, not too early or too late, in which other Nice classes? Should the protection be extended to other countries and continents? The questions are as many as the stories in this field. They are sometimes real serials. JSH Magazine and Swiss Watch Passport enjoy them and will always report on them.