Posts Tagged ‘Ireland’

Spinners, Patents, Trade Marks and protecting your most valuable assets

August 30, 2017

Spinners

Most parents will no doubt be aware of the latest on-going fad; fidget spinners.

Few will realise however that the original inventor of the fidget spinner, Catherine Hettinger, has lost out on millions because she did not take steps to renew the US Design Patent, which she previously took out for her invention.

Design Patent

In a nutshell, a Design Patent (simply known as Design Registration in Europe) is a monopoly right given to you by the territory where you require protection in return for your agreement to publish the details of your design. This means that nobody can use your design without your consent, which is usually granted by means of a written licence agreement.

In most countries, your Design Registration will last for 25 years provided you pay a renewal fee every five years.

On a recent trip to Florida, I learnt about Catherine Hettinger’s unfortunate story. Due to the perceived high cost of renewing her Design Patent, Ms Hettinger allowed it to lapse. This meant that she could no longer prevent third parties from using and commercialising her design.

As expected others have now commercialised Ms Hettinger’ design and have earned millions from doing so. Catherine Hettinger’s tale is a salutary one and applies equally to brand and new business owners.

Trade Mark

All too often, businesses will spend considerable time and money in developing and bringing a new brand to market, but will fail to take any steps to protect the very brand they have spent so much developing.

Unless you have been trading under a particular business name or have established significant business goodwill under your brand, you will find it very difficult to stop a copycat from starting a business under an identical or confusingly similar brand.

The only way you can stop a copycat if by registering your brand as a Trade Mark.

What is a Trade Mark?

A Trade Mark is essentially any sign you use in your business to distinguish your products and/or services from other traders.

By registering a Trade Mark, you get an instant State backed exclusive right to prevent others, without your consent, from using identical or similar signs upon, or in relation to the goods and/or services covered by your registration.

If you find that somebody else is using a sign which you believe is identical or confusingly similar to your trade mark, you only need to produce your Certificate of Registration in court as proof of your right.

Without this trade mark registration, you would have to convince a court that you have been trading long enough to establish a protectable business goodwill under your business or brand name.

Obviously, new business and brand owners will not even be able to get past this first hurdle.

A Trade Mark registration also has other advantages.

For example, few businesses realise that their brands are their most important and valuable assets. The law recognises this and therefore regards a trade mark registration as a property right. Like any other property right, you can use your registered trade mark, or registered design, as collateral for loan or investment finance.

I once acted for a client who did just this and was able to save its business from collapse. Trade Mark and Design registrations can also be licensed, transferred and bequeathed like any other property right.

Trade Mark and Design registrations also have the advantage that they are protected as property rights under the Irish Constitution and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which effectively makes it near impossible for the Government to sequestrate it.

So, what does it cost to secure a trade mark registration?

Like Catherine Hettinger, many businesses are initially put off by the upfront costs of protecting a brand by means of trade mark registration. This is false economy.

By way of illustration, the upfront cost of registering your brand as a pan-EU trade mark (EUTM), without any objections or challenges, starts at approximately €1,500 ex VAT.

While this might seem a lot to many SMEs, you have to bear in mind that you are securing a monopoly in each EU Member State for an initial period of 10 years (an EUTM can be renewed indefinitely every 10 years). Rounded up slightly, this works out at an annual cost of €5.50 per EU Member State. I know of no insurance policy that would cost this little!

Niall Tierney - IP LawyerNiall Tierney

Niall Tierney is an IP lawyer located in Dublin, Ireland brand – Design protection lawyer and Managing Director of TIERNEY IP, a specialist law firm which assists and advises businesses in clearing, protecting, enforcing and monetising trade marks, designs and other Intellectual Property rights.

If you would like to discuss the protection of your brands or business names, please email Niall at niall@tierneyip.com. Alternatively, he can be reached at 01 2544116.

Don’t forget about the books

July 17, 2017

There is an urban legend about an architect that designed a library.

In his calculations he forgot to factor in the weight of the books, so when the library was complete and filled with its contents it began to sink.

Although it is an urban legend the story hosts a very important point – Never forget about the purpose.

For example, when I design a logo and the client wants something beautiful and creative, it is easy to get carried away with aesthetics and forget about the purpose of a logo.

A logo is an anchor point for your business and it can often be the first impression a customer has with your business. It needs to represent you, what you stand for, who you are, what you do and what makes you unique – and it needs to do this immediately.

Always keep in mind the purpose of what you are doing.

Paul Wade - Fuzion Graphic DesignPaul Wade

Paul Wade is part of the Graphic Design team at Fuzion Communications who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Don’t fear the darkside!

June 20, 2017

Fear of the darkside

As 2017 dawned, I found myself jobless.

This was ironic, considering I managed to hold onto a full time job throughout the recession, only to be made redundant as our economy turned the corner.

Instead of accepting one of the cool, interesting, and maybe most salient at the time, PAID opportunities that I was presented with in the immediate aftermath of my redundancy, I decided on the far riskier move, and take a career break.

After an enjoyable, rewarding but ultimately all-consuming role as Southern Correspondent with UTV Ireland, I was exhausted. I needed time to take stock, and re-charge before I set off on my next adventure.

Surprisingly, to myself more than anyone else, I absolutely loved my time-out.

I revelled in my free time, I read great books that had nothing to do with my profession. I allowed my mind to wander as I filled the black and white pages of my colouring book with doodles. I had some great conversations with great people including friends I long neglected as I chased story after story.

By April, I came around to the idea of hopping back on the 9-5 train…..Journalism no longer had the same draw. So I decided to do a stocktake of the skills I had accumulated, and evaluate how many of these were transferrable.

If you stick to one career path for too long, you can easily assume that your skillset isn’t particularly unique……or sought after. Taking a step out of the rat-race helped me understand that a career in journalism had allowed me to build a valuable list of transferable skills, not to mention an enviable contacts book.

When an opportunity to become part of the team at Fuzion Communications presented itself, thanks to my time-out, I felt ready and able to accept. I could see how I could, with my journalistic perspective, fit into and learn from a very talented and hard-working team.

It’s still early days, but I’m loving the role, a role that I wouldn’t have the skills for if I hadn’t spent so many years chasing stories!

My advice, for what it’s worth, if a career change or redundancy (or a desperate need for a change) looms on your horizon, don’t fear it.

Evaluate your talents and skills, and embrace your next adventure.

Alison Nulty, Fuzion CommunicationsAlison Nulty

Alison Nulty is a Senior Account Manager with Fuzion Communications, a full service agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Don’t Think Outside the Box

May 14, 2017

Think outside the box

It’s a term we hear all the time in business, and especially in the creative industry –  ‘”Think outside the box”’.

I see it in briefs, job descriptions and I hear it said in meetings.

I hate it!

The term has become meaningless, if everyone thinks outside the box then all you do is create a larger box!

The fact is there is no avoiding the box. Everything we do in business and in life has boundaries. There are laws on the street, marketing campaigns have a budget and designing a billboard always has size constraints.

The best way forward is to be creative within the box – Use the boundaries, work within the limitations and show people that you are still, more than capable of being different and creative.

I love the box!

Paul Wade

Paul Wade is part of the Graphic Design team at Fuzion Communications who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Global recognition for Enda Kenny abroad – Bula Bus!

March 28, 2017

Enda Kenny

We all held our breath as our Taoiseach, Enda Kenny went over to the US to visit the new President of America, Donald Trump on St Patrick’s day.

A visit that wasn’t welcomed by all, as many expressed their dislike at our Taoiseach visiting the not so popular Donald Trump, went much better than expected as Mr. Kenny took the opportunity to lecture President Trump on Immigration. This turn of events was quite brave and unexpected and earned our Taoiseach immense praise at home and abroad.

He began his speech by thanking the President for extending the invite to celebrate St Patrick the patron of immigrants”. He was careful not to mention any of Trump’s harsh immigration policies but instead made a point and encouraged the President to be open to immigrants. He went on to tell how many Irish came to shelter in America in the past and how it had such a positive impact on the country rather than a negative.

 “We lived the words of JFK long before he uttered them – we asked not what America could do for us but what we could do for America. And we still do.”

US Media including the New York Times and Fox News praised our Taoiseach for not playing it safe and instead doing what he could do to encourage change and positivity. Enda Kenny used his visit to represent his people and protect Irish Immigrants who are residing in the USA and who are contributing to “making America great again”.

Enda Kenny is under a lot of pressure to stand aside at the moment and is receiving a lot of criticism in Ireland, however in this instance I think he did us proud and represented us well and instead of flying under the radar, he took a bold stance and possibly a risk. As well as doing wonders for his reputation as a leader his performance deserves a massive pat on the back and a Bula Bus!

Maybe St.Patrick himself was looking after Enda Kenny in his own way?

Edel

Edel Cox is a PR Account Manager  with Fuzion Communications who are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm with offices in Dublin and Cork

 

 

Business Social Media – What should you be doing?

March 10, 2017

Twitter for business

Social media continues to evolve with users switching from one platform to another, so where does that leave us today for anyone personally using it for a Business to Business audience?

If anything this has become more straightforward than it was before as Google+ has become irrelevant and most of the new social media activity has happened with the “youth” platforms, which can be ignored for now.

For anyone in business I would recommend the following:

The Basics
You should at a minimum maintain a ‘sparkling’ LinkedIn account that puts your best foot forward at all times. You should treat this as your personal website ensuring that all details are up to date, that you have a professional photograph, that you try to get meaningful recommendations and that you use it proactively for connecting with other people in business.

A big health warning here is that if you are not going to maintain your LinkedIn account properly then it might be wise to delete it – anything that does not paint you in the best possible light should not be allowed.

For example I had one client who was ignoring connection requests for over a year – he nearly had a heart attack when he realised that many of those looking to connect with him were his clients!!

Basics with more ambition
For someone with a little more ambition I would encourage them to add Twitter into their social media mix and I would advise posting on both LinkedIn and Twitter to “make some noise” and let the right people know what they are all about. When posting try to use visuals where possible as nice pictures help posts to get more attention!

Twitter as a platform seemed to be fading away a little but our good friend, Mr.Trump seems to have reversed this trend!

As part of this “making some noise” strategy I would recommend following and interacting with relevant accounts on Twitter and doing the same with LinkedIn including relevant groups – try to pick groups where you will find prospects, not other people in your industry.

Trump loves twitter

The Avid User
If you really want to embrace social media you need to incorporate it into your working day, everyday.

A regular piece of advice that I give to clients is that social media is not a full time activity but it is a full time mentality – effectively, you are always “on” looking for natural opportunities to connect, start or join a discussion that demonstrates who you are and what you do.

You will have succeeded here if people in your sector recognise you as a prominent social media user. Even more evidence of success, is when journalists who are prolific online recognise you and contact you for commentary on topics relevant to your sector.

Pro Tip– When you are posting try to use a few relevant #Hashtags frequently so that after a while they become synonymous with you.

The Publisher
The real social media “guru” is the person who publishes their own material online.

Basically I am talking about those who are writing articles and opinion pieces frequently that are relevant to the sector that they work in. These pieces would demonstrate their expertise and personality and they can be hosted on their own blog or else published within their LinkedIn account (or both). These pieces can then be used as social media posts – if posts are not time sensitive they can even be recycled over time.

For those who are excellent in front of a camera or engaging into a microphone, then video (open your own YouTube account) or podcasts are others ways to capture their expertise and personality and these can also be shared as social media posts or incorporated into their blog posts.

What about Facebook and the new social media platforms?
You might be wondering why there has been no mention of the other social media platforms – in truth I don’t think that they are relevant for the B2B audience BUT …there is always a but…

..all of your social media activity demonstrates to the outside world who you are so you must be careful that you don’t do anything detrimental to your self image by what you post and how you behave online.

While I consider the above platforms to be the ones relevant for business you will often get a business contact sending you a ‘friend request‘ on Facebook or following you on Instagram or Snapchat.

In many cases you may feel obliged to accept that ‘friend request‘ but once this happens you do need to realise that all of your “personal” posts will contribute to others forming an opinion of you.

Other developments
One of things that I have observed in the last while is that the ‘reach‘ of posts (how many people get to see the posts) across all platforms has disintegrated in favour of sponsored or promoted posts so you have to work even harder than before to get noticed and create an impact.

The other trend to note is “live” video which is becoming a big feature on both Facebook and Twitter – while you can probably ignore the feature on Facebook (for the B2B audience) it can be quite relevant for Twitter, as long as the content is clever and interesting.

Facebook have threatened developing their own B2B type platform for a while as they want to dominate all social media but we haven’t see any evidence of this yet.

To summarise I would advise everyone in business to jump in at some level and try to push it to the next level over time, I will guarantee you that you will see results but like everything else in life you must stick with it.

For the naysayers who still think that social media is a big waste of time, I would like to say a big thanks for leaving an even bigger opportunity for the rest of us!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion offer Social Media Consultancy and Training from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Restoring trust in An Garda Síochána and Tusla

February 13, 2017

Maurice McCabe

If things weren’t bad before, they became even worse for An Garda Síochána when it was revealed that an “incorrect” sexual abuse file was held against Maurice McCabe by Tusla, the family and child protection agency.

Everyone in the media is being extra careful to avoid stating the obvious conclusions as they risk getting into trouble legally. However, they have published the various statements by those parties involved and reported the facts as they came to light and they keep probing and probing for the truth in this sinister mess to reveal itself fully.

Incidents like this demonstrate once again why we need professional, intelligent journalism to bring us the truth as we can’t rely solely on social media to deliver this. Social media is fantastic as it gives us a powerful voice to demonstrate our dissatisfaction as loudly as we feel is appropriate.

We heard the statement by the Garda Commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan, the leader of the organisation who has claimed that she know nothing of the sexual abuse shenanigans with the whistleblower, Maurice McCabe.

Tusla in the meantime have issued their own statement claiming that their file against Maurice McCabe with the atrocious false claims against him were a ‘clerical error‘.

The comical little addition to the Tusla story was that their official apology to Maurice McCabe was sent to the wrong address!

The public are no fools and the generally held, unsurprising conclusion about this story is that senior members of the Gardaí who were unhappy with their whistle blowing colleague tried to smear his reputation in the worst possible way to punish him and protect themselves.

Even worse in this sorry saga, Tusla were obviously happy to play ball with their Garda acquaintances.

This stinks to high heaven and leaves all of us with two awful conclusions:

We cannot trust An Garda Síochána and we cannot trust Tusla.

When you consider the crucial role that both of these state bodies are paid to provide, ‘trust‘ is not a negotiable, nice to have attribute. Trust is everything.

What next?

To begin the long road of rebuilding trust in both organisations there can be no more fluffing about and decisive action and clear communication is required.

Our strong advice to those in charge would be to get ahead of the story, remove all doubts and demonstrate in no uncertain way how important regaining trust is.

This is the time for An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny or Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald to take decisive action and remove Nóirín O’Sullivan from her role and get the investigation started immediately.

This is the time for Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone to demand a 100% honest statement from the CEO of Tusla, Fred McBride as to what actually happened. If this is as farcical as the ‘clerical error’ statement, he should also be removed from his role.

The reputation of these two state organisations is not negotiable – start demonstrating it.

Greg Canty 

Fuzion provide Crisis PR services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland 

Two heads are better than one!

February 1, 2017

A few years ago I worked in a company where I was the only designer.

This was nice in a few ways – I had creative control over everything and there is a lot of satisfaction to be had from fixing a problem by yourself. But on your own you can only take things so far – there is always someone who will think of something you won’t, know something you don’t and see things from a different perspective.

This is something that Fuzion does incredibly well. Whether it is design or PR – everyone attends a brainstorm.

Every idea passes through many minds, gets questioned, gets analysed, gets pushed. For an idea to be truly great, it needs to travel different avenues. Even if the idea comes back to where it started, it needs to make the journey. I genuinely believe some of the ideas the team have come up with could not have been created by a single person, but needed a group to help them develop and grow.

I am a big fan of brainstorming. Check out some ideas I use whether in a group or on my own:

Fuzion Brainstorming Inforgraphic

Paul Wade - Fuzion Graphic DesignPaul Wade

Paul Wade is part of the Graphic Design team at Fuzion Communications who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

When Fashion meets Politics – Melania Trump

December 12, 2016

Melania Trump - When fashion meets politics

Fashion designers around the world are torn when it comes to Melania Trump as it looks like the soon to be First Lady is paying the price for her husband’s controversial reputation and comments on issues such racism, sexism etc.

Since it became clear that Donald Trump will be the next US President a number of high profile fashion designers have made a stance and refused to dress his wife Melania Trump when she takes on her role as First Lady in January.

Historically designers queue up to dress the First Lady.

The current First Lady, Michelle Obama, has become a fashion icon since she shot into the limelight and dazzles on every occasion. Fashion designers around the world are eager to dress her and to date she has worn what have since become iconic looks.

This time however it seems Melania has very few offers on the table as designers such as Marc Jacobs, Derek Lamb, Tom Ford and Sophie Theallet (who dresses Michelle Obama) have all refused to dress her.

Marc Jacobs stated “I have no interest whatsoever in dressing Melania Trump. Personally, I’d rather put my energy into helping out those who will be hurt by Donald] Trump and his supporters.”

Tom Ford stated “I was asked to dress Melania Trump quite a few years ago and I declined…She’s not necessarily my image.”

Derek Lam stated “I don’t know Melania Trump personally, so I don’t wish my comments to seem I am prejudging her personal values, but I really don’t see myself getting involved with the Trump presidency.”

Sophie Theallet stated “As one who celebrates and strives for diversity, individual freedom and respect for all lifestyles, I will not participate in dressing or associating in any way with the next First Lady. The rhetoric of racism, sexism, and xenophobia unleashed by her husband’s presidential campaign are incompatible with the shared values we live by. I encourage my fellow designers to do the same.”

On the other side other designers such as Tommy Hilfiger, Thom Browne and Diane Von Furstenberg are some of the few designers who see Melania as The First Lady rather than Donald Trump’s wife and would be delighted to dress her.

Melania Trump - Fashion and Politics

Tommy Hilfiger stated “I think Melania is a very beautiful woman and I think any designer should be proud to dress her.”

Thom Browne stated “Out of respect for the position of the first lady of our United States, I would be honoured to be considered to design for any first lady of the United States.” 

Diane von Furstenberg statedMelania deserves the respect of any first lady before her.”

Who knows who will eventually dress Melania but my guess is whoever does, will get huge positive exposure in the fashion world as despite her or her husband’s beliefs she is a beautiful woman who would look good in anything.

She is already a fashion icon due to her celebrity status and no doubt as she takes on her role as The First Lady her fashion icon status will shoot through the roof so I’d imagine whatever designer gets the job of dressing her will in no way regret it.

Edel

Edel Cox is a Senior PR Account Manager with Fuzion who have offices in Dubliun and Cork, Ireland

Sources for this blog: WWD, Huffington Post, The Irish Independent, Quartz

CSR – Starting from the ground up

February 1, 2016

Unless you were hiding under a rock in late January, you probably spotted details of a heart-warming story about how a “mystery” Cork bus driver helped a little old lady, making her day… and that of lots of people who heard the “heroic” tale.

In case you missed it, here’s a snapshot of the Facebook post that brought this little act of kindness to light…

Kind bus driver

Thanks to Clara’s post, news of this good deed spread around Cork and the entire country (and the world!) quickly… as you can see from the screengrab above, this number escalated and the post on Bus Éireann’s Facebook page has now been liked almost 100,000 times. The bus driver was quickly identified online by his sister and sister-in-law as William Harris.

Now I’m sure when William took just a minute out of his day to help his passenger it didn’t cross his mind again… after all this was just a genuine act of human kindness that I’d like to think any of us could have, and would have done.

Unfortunately though you don’t come across “William” on every bus journey, or train journey, or restaurant visit you make. But if I was “William’s” employer, I would certainly encourage all my staff to take a leaf out of his book – it’s nice to be nice, and it doesn’t cost a thing. A big message is that CSR doesn’t always require budgets!

Working in PR we see companies strive for Best Practice when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), but really if you think about it, it starts at grassroots level and is so simple. Once the foundations are in place and people buy into the idea, everything will fall into place. I’ve worked with so many clients over the years who have implemented simple, yet very effective, CSR initiatives and activities that genuinely make the staff feel good but also make a real difference.

Remember to do the little things, for one day you will look back and realise they were the big things!

Alison O'Brien - FuzionAlison O’Brien

Alison O’Brien is a Senior Account Director with Fuzion PR & Marketing who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland


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