Top Five Brand Names & IP Role

Brand names are everywhere. Some more popular than others. Did you know these brands rely on intellectual property (IP) to help them retain value? In this article, we focus on the top five brand names and how IP plays a factor in their success. According to Business Insider, a leading U.S. business and technology news website, the following five brand names rank the highest.

1. Google. With a brand value of $158.8 billion, Google provides a way for us to communicate, research various topics, and even wear computer technology via its newly introduced Google Glass. Google’s patent grants number more than 9,000.

2. Apple. Apple is well-known for its marketing efforts and innovative technology. As a result, its brand remains one of the most popular and valuable in the world. The brand is valued at $147.9 billion and the company has more than 9,000 patent grants.

3. IBM. IBM is the world’s leading technology company, providing a variety of products including software, cloud computing solutions, modems, and more. IBM’s brand value is $107.5 billion. IBM has been granted more than 43,000 patents.

4. Microsoft. Known as the world’s leading software company, Microsoft owns more than 26,000 patents. Its brand is valued at $90.2 billion. The company’s most popular products include Microsoft Office suite, Internet Explorer, Xbox, and others.

5. McDonald’s. As the most recognized fast food chain in the world, McDonald’s serves nearly 70 million people daily. The fact that this company ranks #5 among technology companies speaks volumes. The McDonald’s brand is valued at $85.7 billion.

As the statistics show, the technology companies show patent activity in the thousands and some in the tens of thousands. Patents can be costly to obtain and maintain. Therefore, it is apparent that patents play an important role in a company’s brand success, especially technology companies that continuously develop new innovations. These patents keep competitors at bay in a very competitive market.

As for McDonald’s, since its main product offering is food, patents are not feasible. Patents are for unique innovations; therefore, food doesn’t apply. However, most people around the world can relate to the company’s famous trademarks, from its burgers (Big Mac), its chicken (McNuggets), its mascot (Ronald), its logo (the Golden Arches), and more. Over the years, McDonald’s continues to add new menu items accompanied with new trademarked names. Furthermore, the company changes its slogan occasionally and even uses several in its ad campaigns. These constant reminders keep McDonald’s a leading brand.

This list of valuable brands names only a few. Thousands of valuable brands rely on intellectual property to help them retain value and gain market advantages.

Redskins Tackle Trademark Issues

Recently, the USPTO cancelled several trademark registrations based on the NFL’s team name. After years of controversy from Native Americans, and most recently politicians, the registrations have been revoked.

Trademarks are one of the most valuable intellectual property assets that a company or organization can have. In fact, some of the most popular trademarks command tens of billions of dollars (e.g., Coca-Cola, Nike’s swoosh, etc.). For over eight decades, the Washington NFL team has enjoyed the benefits of its Redskins trademark. In order to create an effective brand, it can take time, marketing efforts, and money to make it recognized and worthy. Given that the team has been known as the Redskins for more than 80 years indicates how much value the name is to the team.

While the NFL team is likely to appeal the USPTO’s decision, it will still take time and money to get to a final decision. In the meantime, the team has less control over counterfeit products reflecting the team name, much less reaping rewards of infringement. This means it could lose major income from counterfeiters. Further, the controversy remains in the meantime.

The Washington team is in a tough spot with this ongoing debate. If it were to change it’s name, it would have to build its brand all over again. The time, effort, and money to do this would be tremendous. Further, the issue is so controversial that no matter what the team does, there will be those who oppose the decision, whether it is to keep the name or to change it. If it were to change its name, some may not approve or like the new one chosen. If the team is forced to change its name, it could be a costly endeavor. It’s no wonder the team is fighting hard to keep its trademark.

Five Ways Patents Provide Value

Patents mean big money, in more ways than one. They cost a lot to acquire and keep up with maintenance fees. However, they can also bring big value to a company. As a result, companies continuously try to build their patent portfolios via applying for them or buying them from other companies. In fact, Lenovo, a leading personal technology company, recently bought 21 patent families for $100 million. Such purchases will continue as patents prove to bring great value to companies.

1. Keeps competitors at bay. Competitors have a harder time competing with companies that own patents in the same field. This is because patent owners can prevent competitors from entering the market with a similar product, due to risk of infringement.

2. Allows for competitive pricing. Patent owners can charge much more for a product than other companies. Since patents protect inventions that are unique by nature, this means that patent owners have a product like no other. Therefore, they can command a higher selling price since no other company is likely to have the same product without infringing.

3. Positions inventor/owner as market leader. Patents position companies as leaders in specific fields. For instance, pharmaceutical and technology companies often command superiority in particular areas. As a result, most consumers can name the top pharmaceutical companies and technology companies. These companies represent brand names such as Lipitor, Nexium, iPad, and Galaxy. When companies such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Apple, and Samsung position themselves as market leaders, they create customer loyalty.

4. Sets foundation for future improvements. Companies that own patented products can continuously tweak those products and command higher prices. Thus, many smartphone companies frequently introduce slightly newer versions of their smartphones, tweaking them slightly by building off the first version. As mentioned earlier, market leaders create customer loyalty. Therefore, a customer who purchases an iPhone is likely to continue purchasing newer versions of iPhones rather than switching to an Android or a Galaxy.

5. Provides protection in event of lawsuit. With the increase in patent lawsuits, owning patents provides the best protection in the event of willful infringement. Patent owners can receive up to treble damages in such cases. This is why companies scramble to boost their patent portfolios. Patent lawsuits are becoming commonplace, and the best safeguard is to own patents.

As noted, patents represent big money. While they may cost a lot to acquire and maintain, gaining major traction in competitive industries as well as providing protection in the event of a lawsuit make patent ownership worthwhile.

Technology Leads Patent Pursuers

In the business world, some of the most successful companies own a large amount of patents.These patents provide great value. Check out our article titled “Five Ways Patents Provide Value” to learn more on patent value. For this article, we’ve highlighted some of the patent leaders. These leaders aggressively apply for and buy patents to protect their inventions and ward off competitors.

For the first four months of 2014, the following companies represented the top ten that have been awarded the most patents.

1. IBM – 2,247
2. Canon – 1,210
3. Microsoft – 988
4. Sony – 948
5. Panasonic – 730
7. Qualcomm – 703
8. Google – 681
9. Toshiba – 678
10. LG – 673

As the list indicates, technology companies are the most aggressive when it comes to the patent landscape. Patents are so important to the technology industry that Apple had to change its game plan. There was a time when Apple relied simply on its products without the added protection of patents. While Apple did not make the top ten in patent grants for the first four months of this year, it follows close behind at number 11 with 632 patent grants. That alone is a telling aspect since it was only a few years ago that Apple didn’t have many patents to brag about at all. In the past few years, Apple has built its patent portfolio by acquiring patents from other companies and has stepped up its game by applying for patents as evident by this research. In fact, Apple ranked seventh in the first four months for the most patent applications. Therefore, it is not inconceivable that Apple will rank in the top ten by the end of the year.

As technology continues to advance, it is likely that these technology companies will remain top players in the patent arena for years to come. Especially since these same companies represent the companies with the most patent applications so far this year.

Four Ways Celebrity Endorsements Boost Technology Profits

Celebrities are a forceful advertisement technique for companies, especially those that can afford such a high-dollar technique. In recent years, celebrity appearances have been increasing in the technology field. For instance, Alicia Keys (Blackberry), Robert Downey Jr. (HTC), Lady Gaga (Polaroid), Jerry Seinfeld (Microsoft), and Kevin Bacon (Logitech) all appear in advertisements for technology companies. Does this make sense? Read on to learn why it may be a great investment to pursue celebrity endorsements.

1. Relatability. While most consumers do not know a celebrity personally, many of us feel that we can relate to celebrities. After all, we frequently see celebrities in various entertainment forums. We begin to feel as if we know the celebrities and their personalities. While we are essentially associating with a character, our perception is what counts the most. This relatability creates an awareness for a product that may have not ever been on the mind of the consumer before. While we are physically closer to local figures such as attorneys, dentists, and others who may promote products, we seem to relate better to celebrities who are essentially out of touch. We literally “see” them more often.

2. Popularity. If a well-known celebrity believes in a particular product and is supporting it, then consumers want to join the trend. In this way, consumers can tout that they are just as trendy as a particular celebrity. For many consumers, they want what celebrities have: presence, money, visibility, and more. Why not the same products then?

3. Credibility. For companies that are struggling, hiring a celebrity can provide credibility to a product that has fallen due to competition. Consumers associate celebrities with the highest quality products. Also, it’s even better if a company’s product could potentially contribute greatly to a celebrity’s success. For instance, since Robert Downey Jr. plays the Iron Man character, it’s not inconceivable that HTC products could play a big part in the role of Iron Man.

4. Success. Most consumers equate celebrity status with success. After all, celebrity status is hard to come by and is only captured by a very small percentage of the population. Therefore, a product that a celebrity promotes leads us to believe it’s a great product.

The technology industry is consistently under extreme pressure to keep up with competitors. Nearly as soon as a new product hits the market, another company is working on something better that won’t take long to follow. Therefore, technology companies have to be creative with their marketing techniques to take away the focus on competitors and to continue to make consumers believe that their product is still the best on the market. Celebrities can help some of these technology companies do just that.