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The power of the brand

By Clare Matheson and Sahira Khwaja

With property developments increasingly focusing on experience and becoming “destinations” or lifestyle brands in their own right, branding has become an essential element of the development process. Therefore, protecting your intellectual property rights (“IP”) is important, helping to protect and even increase the value of your development.

There are four main reasons to protect your real estate brand:

a) to prevent copying;

b) to create a branded, experiential destination for customers, tenants, and other users;

c) to increase revenue through licensing (for example through merchandise); and

d) to increase recognition of your brand and marketability of your development.

Conversely, if you are an investor/purchaser you should be looking to ensure that all the necessary IP rights are owned by the developer and transferred as part of the transaction.

Here are some key things to consider in protecting these rights

Trade Mark Rights

This covers, amongst other things, names, nicknames, and logos.

The name of the development, as well as any nicknames, can and should be protected by registration as well as any designs or logos used.

Registering trade marks will help to protect against damaging infringement and copycats.

There are many trade marks registered in retail and real estate services. It is a crowded market and that can make it difficult to register a trade mark which is sufficiently different to those already registered. Register the trade mark early. If the name of the development becomes synonymous with the area it’s in it may be difficult to register the name as geographical locations are not generally registrable and must be kept free for all to use.

Copyright

Copyright arises automatically in certain original works and is ordinarily owned by the creator of the work. Copyright may arise in building plans, websites, photographs, virtual tours, and in software code, for example AR/VR used in apps.

Summary

Get ahead and stay ahead of your IP rights. IP rights are an important part of the development process and as the influence of tech and lifestyle branding continues to increase, the importance of IP rights and protecting your development brand continues to grow.

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