A 1964 floral poppy design trademarked by Finnish textile and clothing company Marimekko was the subject of a recent settlement between Marimekko and fashion house Dolce & Gabbana. Why? Dolce & Gabbana allegedly used a similar fabric print in its poppy dress design without Marimekko’s permission.
Unlike patents, trademarks do not expire if they are properly used. That makes them a valuable addition to your marketing arsenal. You can use distinctive words, phrases, or designs to put a picket fence around your marketing platform and keep competitors out. That’s what Marimekko does with its distinctive poppy print. That’s what the hamburger chain McDonald’s does with its Mc prefix for it menu items. That’s what Perrier does with its bottle design.
The law does not require the use of trademarks, but taking advantage of them is a smart way for entrepreneurs to leveraging intellectual property into an asset with licensing potential.
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Choosing the right holiday gift for your colleagues, your boss, or your clients can be one more overwhelming task to add to your plate during the holiday season. That’s because gift-giving in the business environment has its own set of rules and guidelines. Author and etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore has put together the business gift-giving tips and advice you need to know before beginning your holiday shopping. Below are Whitmore’s “Whit-Bits” that every businessperson should keep in mind this holiday season.
Set a spending limit for gift-giving exchanges. Once a price limit is set among coworkers or for your office’s holiday gift exchange, make sure you stick to it. Limits help participants select an appropriate gift at an affordable price. Whenever you overspend, you run the risk of looking like a show-off. On the other hand, spending considerably below the norm might come off looking stingy.
Give thoughtful and useful gifts. Whether it’s for your boss, colleague, assistant or client, gifts that lend both organization and style to an office environment are always appreciated.
Tailor your gift to the taste and personality of the receiver. Keeping track of your clients’ and colleagues’ likes, dislikes, interests, and hobbies is always helpful at gift-giving time.
Consider corporate culture. Before sending any gifts to clients or vendors, it is best to check the receiver’s corporate policy guidelines on gift-giving. Otherwise, a well-intended gift may be returned to you.
Bring coworkers together to get your boss a gift. Brainstorm gift ideas with your colleagues and have everyone chip in on one group gift for the boss. If you work in a small office or know your boss well, it’s acceptable to give a smaller but personal gift, like a gift card, book, CD, or gift for his/her family or pet.
Personalize but don’t get too personal. Personalizing your gift shows your creative side while letting your recipient know that you’re an attentive listener. Just be careful to stay away from items that are too personal in nature, such as perfume, clothing, red roses, alcohol, or tobacco products.
Beware of humorous or gag gifts. Avoid giving a humorous gift if you don’t know a person well. What you might think is cute or funny may be offensive or insulting to someone else and could quickly damage or even sabotage a business relationship.
Always remember a personal note. The hand-written note adds a nice touch to any gift. Those deserving a note of thanks include anyone who’s given you advice, their time, or a helping hand this year. Appropriate wrapping paper and presentation are also very important, and whenever possible, try to give the gift in person.
Jacqueline Whitmore is the founder and director of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, the author of Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work, and the gift giving etiquette expert for Sam’s Club. To subscribe to her monthly e-newsletter, visit her Website at www.etiquetteexpert.com.