I need an explanation for this Writing question to help me study.
Learning Objectives Covered
- LO 04.01 – Understand the importance of protecting a brand in the global marketplace
- LO 04.03 – Learn about issues marketing leaders face when trying to protect their brand in the global marketplace
Launching a brand in another country isn’t as easy as setting up shop and inviting the customers in. Every country has its own approach to registering trademarks, and even differences in language can cause international customers to view your brand in a negative light. As a marketer who seeks to reach global consumers, you will need to be aware of these nuances and understand the legal ramifications of crossing borders with your brand.
A young man in what looked like a red wetsuit removed his glove to shake Julia’s hand. His fingers passed ghostlike right through hers at first before finding their solid grasp.
“I’m sorry, it’s sometimes hard to find the right molecular harmonics,” said Frequency Unknown, the hero who wanted her marketing agency, Secret Identity, to help form partnerships with other heroes overseas to create a new super alliance—and develop merchandise and special events to create revenue. Julia recalled a short list of his superpowers: can pass through solid matter, can rip apart molecular bonds upon touch, can emit devastating soundwaves. She made a mental note to be careful around this guy.
“So, you’re ready to go global, Mr. Unknown. Frequency? What shall I call you anyway?” asked Julia.
“My friends call me Freeq,” he said.
The hero’s manager jumped in. She was a 30-ish woman named Agate. “My client’s product lines have been outperforming other South Coast heroes for three years. He’s become an underground success by focusing on youth abuse rescues and bullying interventions.”
“Strong defining mission,” said Julia. “I’m impressed. Most heroes I work with have a list of powers and a fancy logo—at best. You are applying yourself in an unconventional niche and appealing to that coveted 18–24 year old demographic.”
“I was bullied as a child,” said the hero. “After I got these powers on a field trip to the nuclear accelerator, I wanted to make it easier for other kids. I’m ready to team up with heroes all over the world for that message.”
International Brand Challenges
“I’ve had a look at a few issues we have to iron out before we can introduce Freeq to the world,” said Julia, glancing at her notes.
“For starters, there’s a thrash band from Finland called ‘Unknown Frequency.’” Julia held up her tablet with an image of a quartet of unwashed, long-haired male musicians wearing lots of heavy eyeliner. One was holding up the skull of a goat and looking it in the eye. “They’ve been criticized for lyrics that promote anarchy and violence against the police, and they’ve grown popular throughout Scandinavia and the Baltics.”
“Not a very happy coincidence,” said Agate. “What can we do about it?”
“Not much,” said Julia. She explained that the Norwegian band had registered a European Union Trademark, allowing them to protect their name. In some countries as well as in the EU, courts recognized the “first-to-file” principle, which meant whichever trademark was on record first would hold precedence. In the United States, the party which used the trademark first owned it (Kwek, 2018).
“Even if we did file first, I’m not sure we’d escape the association with that Finnish band,” said Agate. “How about if we just use his nickname, Freeq?”
“Hey, I’d be down with that,” said Freeq, fading to invisibility, then snapping back into focus.
“Hmmm…I’d need to do some brand research. Off the top of my head, Freeq, which comes from ‘freak’, once had very negative stereotypes. I’m thinking circus sideshows, homophobia, or anyone perceived as different. It’s gotten more widely applied to ‘neat freaks’ and ‘control freaks.’ Your message takes ownership of that word and turns it into a positive—which aligns with your brand message of neutralizing bullies and empowering outcasts.”
Julia made a note to research the word “freak” in all major world markets to make sure the implication was the same everywhere. Word sounds in different languages could change the meaning of a word (Erichsen, 2019).
“Could we even trademark a common term like ‘Freeq’?” asked Agate.
“Yes, but it’s not easy,” said Julia. She explained that a descriptive word like “apple” could not be trademarked at the grocery store, but it could be trademarked at an electronics store that sold Apple iPhones (Lech, 2017). “We have to commit to the trademark for five years and be consistent with logos and designs, or we open ourselves up to challenges.”
Agate looked at Freeq, who nodded. “We’re ready to begin working with you, Julia. You seem to know your stuff. How do we get started?”
“That’s wonderful. I’m happy to help you with this expansion,” said Julia. “Our first step is to register the Freeq trademark here in the U.S., along with Unknown Frequency, the logo, his suit design, theme songs, and any other identifying features. Then after I’ve done some heavy brand research—and hopefully not found any pre-existing trademarks—we’re going to use the Madrid Agreement to extend the Freeq registration.” The Madrid system allows companies to register for international trademark protection in 113 countries by filing with the World International Property Organization, or WIPO (Thomas, 2016).
Freeq stood up from his chair and walked through the conference table to shake Julia’s hand again. “It’s going to be a real pleasure doing business with you, Ma’am,” he said.
Erichsen, G. (2019, June 27). The Chevy Nova that wouldn’t go. Thought Co. Retrieved on April 25, 2020. https://www.thoughtco.com/chevy-nova-that-wouldnt-go-3078090 (Links to an external site.)
Kwek, T. et al. (2018, June). Brand protection in the global marketplace. Bird and Bird. Retrieved on April 24, 2020. https://www.twobirds.com/en/news/articles/2018/global/brand-protection-in-the-global-marketplace (Links to an external site.)
Thomas, J. (2016, August 11). 6 tips for registering a trademark overseas. Entrepreneur. Retrieved on April 25, 2020. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/279781 (Links to an external site.)
Sources of Information
Hill, B. (2019, February 12). What are some challenges that firms face for international marketing? Chron. Retrieved on April 25, 2020. https://smallbusiness.chron.com/challenges-firms-face-international-marketing-3356.html (Links to an external site.)
Your company is launching your new robotic vacuum in the United Kingdom. What should your company do to ensure your new vacuum brand is protected? Are there any restrictions for launching a product outside of your territory?
For your citation, you might use articles that provide advice on protecting trademarks in international markets.
For your peer response, you could cite famous examples of international trademark conflicts.
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