If you’ve taken the time out to read some of my older posts, you’ll find that one of my struggles with building a unique Luxury Footwear Brand is my fear of imitation. More times than none, fear is a good thing. It fuels you to overcome obstacles that would otherwise limit your goals and achievements, however, when it comes to protecting your intellectual property- ideas that you hold very dear to your heart, fear is more than a drive. It’s a necessity.
Before creating my award-winning interchangeable designs in my debut collection- The Gemini Rebirth, I spent much time researching existing designs to ensure that I would be producing something novel. To my excitement, nothing like this had ever been done, which is why I was prompted to seek out ways to protect myself against future theft and unauthorized replicas. For an emerging brand like MOLLY, imitation is definitely not a form of flattery, it’s the beginning of a potentially gruesome end. When larger, recognized brands take from smaller businesses, they usually profit off their designs without having to deal with any repercussions.
This blog post is not intended to serve as legal advice. I am simply taking the time out to share my experiences, and the steps I’ve taken to ensure that my intellectual (and physical) properties are protected, as well as the emotional and financial scuffles I have faced to make sure of this.
In December 2017, I was blessed with the idea of creating a Luxury Footwear Brand that produced never-before-seen styles. I spent the year drafting up concepts in a notepad, but one of the major obstacles I was faced with was not knowing how to get it off the ground. All I knew was that I needed a name that was true to me, and a logo that was distinguished enough to stand out from existing brands, while remaining top-tier.
I probably designed about 5-6 logos between January to April 2018, taking some time out to really see how I felt about each logo until I was satisfied with one. As soon as I achieved that, the idea of trademarking came to me and a quick google search on ‘how to trademark a brand logo’, led me to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) where I filed for an application to trademark my logo. It cost me about $200 to submit, but because there is a standard trademark application process in place, I wasn’t approved until late 2020.
Registering your trademark: To obtain a fully registered trademark, your approved application will have to be indexed into a trademark application journal where each logo will be further examined and left for a period of about 2 months to ensure that your trademark is not contested by any individual or organization. If there is no opposition throughout this period, you will be notified to register your trademark with the CIPO.
All in all, this process took about a year and a half to get through. I’m not quite sure how to obtain trademarks in other countries, but I would say if you have plans to launch a brand and immediately get your products into the market with a registered trademark, filing for one way ahead of your intended release date is definitely recommend. Otherwise, simply putting in an application for a trademark while your business is on the come up is a good start.
Hefty fees here! But is it worth it? Mmm… so so.
Let me start by saying that there are various types of patents that are available for filing, so to ensure that you are not spending a bunch of wasted time and money on your application, I would recommend consulting a patent lawyer for advice and direction. This process will definitely come at a fee so be prepared to shell out some cash.
Filing for a patent is not essential unless you have created something unconventional or novel that could potentially be replicated and profited off, which is why this process was much more tedious than filing for a trademark.
After winning the A’ Design Award in April 2020, the fear of my designs being replicated as a result of the wide-reach publicity once again drove me to take extra precautions to protect my investments by filing for a design patent.
If you’re anything like me, seeking legal protection in this magnitude for the first time will come with a few curveballs. From the fees to retaining a legal team, to preparing your application and conducting a thorough research prior to submission, this entire process will require your focus, understanding and vision as an artist. I cannot stress this enough.
At this moment, I cannot tell you if the $11,000 I spent filing for a Design Patent was worth it, but I can definitely say that I feel more secure and more protected than if I did not. Looking forward to the future of my brand as I progress in this cut-throat industry, I would just rather be safe than sorry.
This type of protection is a little different (and less stressful) from Trademarks and Patents, seeing as it can be acquired much quicker.
When I made the move to Canada’s Fashion Capital, I got my first atelier where I could escape into my own world and create designs around the clock. This new acquisition, of course, came with more responsibilities- some more obvious than others i.e. Rent. Now to rent this commercial space, it was required of me to have insurance covering possible damages and liabilities before moving in. However, it took some time to find a broker that could supply my needs and adequately protect my creations and my space, because every broker I called seemed to have the same response: my line of work wasn’t exactly specified in their services. I was not a full blown manufacturer since I was still making one-of-one pieces, and I didn’t quite qualify as a retailer because of this reason.
It wasn’t until the close of my production phase for The Gemini Rebirth: GR1 that I decided to try again. With my first large shipment on the way, I was undeniably an absolute wreck. Feeling the need to seek out insurance that covered an array of damages and losses was not only fear-driven by the idea of my investments, God forbid, potentially going down the drain after MONTHS of blood, sweat and tears.
Fortunately for me, I was able to get an insurance broker that shopped around for the best policies available to me. My start date was specified, I made my initial payments, and the rest was history.
- Understand that Intellectual Property Protection is an investment. You work so hard to be creative and bring your ideas to life. There is no reason why you shouldn’t take the steps to protect them, if possible.
- By all means, endeavour to carry out your own research before taking steps like these. Ask yourself questions like “Does my design already exist?”, and “Is my design/logo currently being used by another creator/brand?”, etc.
- Be sure to weigh out your options, in terms of finding the best representatives/organizations to file. Not only does it help with understanding your needs, but it’s a great way to feel more optimistic & secure in the outcome.
As always, I hope my past and present experiences are able to guide you through your personal journeys, whether they are related to fashion/design or not. Please feel free to comment your thoughts, experiences and any advice you have related to this topic.
Until next time,