A Typical SME IP Problem

A couple of weeks ago, the owners of Pacificana – a locally owned SME specializing in selling Pacific style clothing and accessories like flowers and earrings, approached our Legal IP Division Vai IP for some legal assistance. 

Co-owner Amanda Tau-Kanasa informed us that their business which has been registered since 2015 faced some intellectual property issues and wanted some urgent help.

With a Facebook page following numbering over 100,000 you can understand that Pacificana is indeed a very popular business and a valuable brand. 

Popularity is kind of like a two-edged sword. On the one hand, you can build a positive reputation, generate brand awareness, and grow your business. On the other hand, there are individuals within your group (whether competitors or not) who follow your every move with the aim of “cashing-in” on your hard work.

And this my friends, is why being proactive in protecting your intellectual property is important so that you can reduce the risks of potential infringement. 

Your intangible assets like intellectual property are just as important as your tangible ones. Many businesses ignore the value of their IP until they find themselves in an infringement situation.

For SMEs it’s more challenging because of two main hurdles:

1.    Basic IP Knowledge (or lack of it); and

2.    Costs

Pacificana found themselves in an infringement situation earlier this year when they were alerted by some of their customers that another local business was using a phrase similar, to its “LOOK GOOD FEEL GOOD” slogan. 

The slogan and the business were not registered as trademarks and Pacificana being somewhat caught by surprise of this latest unwanted development sought advice from Vai IP. 

The two barriers above became apparent in our exchanges and we took it upon ourselves to work our way around overcoming them. We felt that if we did nothing, local SMEs would remain vulnerable so by helping SMEs like Pacificana in a more flexible way, we would create some IP awareness traction in the local SME scene that would:

  1. Encourage other SMEs to take responsibility and protect their IP as a normal part of their business process; and
  2. Generate awareness among other SMEs (or would be SME’s) to respect the intellectual creations of local business and create a fair but competitive playing field.

Despite the reactive approach taken by Pacificana, it was not too late (and never is) to assist them file trade mark applications to protect their PACIFICANA business name and their slogan LOOK GOOD FEEL GOOD.

While most of our work is predominantly large corporates, it is pleasing to assist small businesses like Pacificana who are venturing into “unchartered waters” but nonetheless a critical part of business. With this fast paced technological world we live in, SME’s need to adapt and protect now or face the risk of being cheated or worse lose their business entirely.

We’re also assisting other local SMEs protect their IP. On a slightly larger scale, we have assisted the inspiring Annette Sete with her LAVAGIRL and MAKU GIFT brand and recently the artistic and enterprising Austin Edo with his rather “straight to the point” brand “BULLSHIT Artist”. Creativity knows no bounds.

If you have an SME and would like to protect your brand or at least know the basics of why IP is important to your business email me on mea@vaiiplawyers.com. Our IP team focusing SME is more than happy to assist protect a vital aspect of your business before someone takes it away from you.

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