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Seller’s Trademarks for online sales platforms or Combined Triple Parallel Branding

Rachel Pasher Eijkenaar, Adv.


Trademarks- a marketing tool that evolved from names

“A name is defined in a word or phrase that constitutes the distinctive designation of a person or thing” ( https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/name).

A trademark is aname for goods or services- connecting them to their sellers and allowing the customers to distinct them from others. In a small market, the goods were provided to the clients directly from their manufacturers or from the persons administrating the services to the customers.

These goods were distinct by the provider’s name and the provider’s goodwill. As the markets grew and developed, Trademarks offered a practical and financially sensible tool: A name or a mark that could differentiate a manufacturer or seller’s or provider’s goods and services - for any potential customer that can be exposed to them – through any kind of advertisement or media - from

newspapers, to radio, to TV and all of the online platforms.


The importance of Trademarks online

Trademarks online became even more powerful than they already were. The actual goodwill of the goods, was now quantified amongst others by the number of GOOGLE hits, the number of followers of the mark on the social media platforms and the number of people that bothered to review the goods or services connected to them. Trademarks became not only the distinctive name or mark but the engine of marketing and branding. A new advertising system evolved- in an actual from the ground evolution- where new entrepreneurs sharing their use or exposure to a known name, brand or trademark- ended up being the brand or trademark themselves- active platforms- selling photos and selling time on their Facebook pages, Instagram accounts- to the same known brands that they tried to ride themselves to stardom- to start with. A new era in which kings and queens of the social media are the economic and social leaders- their trademarks and brands are the new “flags”- protected by using IP tools.


Branding

Branding is a marketing term: “the promoting of a product or service by identifying it with a particular brand( https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/branding).

Branding includes the total of promotional actions taken by the owner of a business, who sells products, to differentiate its business, from other businesses offering the same products. Trademarks are the base and center of all branding activities, yet not the only one. A seller’s platform needs a distinct branding language, content- such as slogans - that will promote the seller and will become his own “flag”. Brand

creation and promotion is mandatory for any business or person that want to accumulate a large amount of customers (the a tiny grocery in the street corner), and a sustainable business that will create a loyal client base and long lasting good will. The only protection standing between these important assets and others from using it without the owner’s permission- are the intellectual property tools and their enforcement.


Trademarks for Parallel Branding

I offer the pair of words- Parallel branding- (different from the existing term-parallel co-branding), to create a term describing a few brands living and working simultaneously within one business transaction. Door to door salespersons and the neighborhood grocery stores sold different products of different brands but were known to their customers under their own Tradenames and Trademarks. Following these, appeared the large and world known department stores, evolving into giant chains. Parallel to the emergence of such powerful Trademarks - there was a powerful buildup of Trademarks of the known brands of goods from electronics, to apparel, to cosmetics and food. The retail chains could not survive, if the known Trademarked brands where not presented on their sales floors, and the known brands would lose ground if they were not included present there. Parallel Branding was here to stay.


Parallel Branding

By creating global sales platforms, and branding them with Trademarks, a whole new kind of market evolved. Retail giants had to create their own online platforms, to keep up with the competition created by these new markets. Consumers, purchasing products on them sales platforms, recognized them and the services offered by its Trademarks and relied on for its good service based on its goodwill, were offered additional online platforms by the giant retailers they had known long before. Competition became fierce. Customers could buy at any given moment any product online at any platform they chose. These retail giants, now had to compete not only with each other anymore but with these online markets as well- which as far as their Trademarks- they were already prepared to do. Their Trademarks branded their online sales platforms in which Trademarks owned by the manufacturers of the goods sold, where offered as well.


From 2 Actor Parallel Branding to 3

The selling process calls for combined triple branding. Each sale on each of these platforms originally represented a 2 actor Parallel Branding – the goods themselves and the platform’s brands. The online markets, allowing sellers to offer goods within them- created a 3 actor Parallel Branding that now included: the online market, the seller’s business and the branded goods. Actor number 3, the sellers, had to find a way that within the endless pages of these online markets- their existing identity would not be lost, and would stand out and be protected by Trademarks, creating recognition by as many potential customers as possible. Actor 1’s- Brands - are known, registered and present in the online platform, in all stages of the pre purchase (the search stage), and the purchase. The same is true regarding actor 3 – the Good’s brands, that are also present in all stages of the sale. But, actor 2, the seller, would need smart branding and unique trademarks to allow it to stand out in the crowd, and at the same time to promote those specific goods the potential customers search for, within the market.


How to choose the Brand and the Trademark for the sales platform?

A Trademrk that represents the goods- needs to promote these goods only. It does not carry any duty or need to connect it to any platforms. On the contrary. It is he “Royal name” out of the 3 actors - the stand alone. It promotes this aura so that different lines and platforms will approach it- to include it within the products they offer. Different is the sales platform’s name. It is a Trademark that needs to supply for a combination of needs:

1. Distinctiveness of the platform 2. A connection to the goods that themselves carry a recognized brand-without infringing it 3. Its connection to the online market, distinguishing it from sellers that sell off line and from other competitors on the same platform. Finding a Trademark that can supply all the needs, pass the legal conditions and barriers for registration and be market wise successful is a challenging task- build for professionals.

This is an assignment for a Branding professional coupled with a Trademark lawyer- to make sure the above mentioned needs are answered. There is a need to make sure that the Trademark will stand out in the crowd, will project- whatever the owner wishes to (the cheapest platform, the best service one etc. etc.), will be as descriptive as possible (if at all- under the law) and as distinctive as the owner wishes (all under the lawyers approval). In addition to the marketing and advertisement needs in the base of the Trademark registration for the online page- it may serve against different threats to the page and its owner. For example- the differentiation of a page with the Trademark will prevent the online market customers from commenting erroneously against a page’s services- thinking it is another one. A Trademark will assist the page owner in its contractual relationship with the goods manufacturers and goods brands owners- to prove good will of the page and its owner and to allow for a better leverage in negotiating with them. As for the relationship with the online platform - a strong Trademark will help the page owner in moving it to assist with the removal of unjustified and damaging customer comments, on the removal of other copyright infringing pages - using similar texts and sales pitches and other passing off activities and more- all based on the registered Trademark and the goodwill it created.


Parallel Branding is here to stay

Whatever Trademark is chosen and whatever the reasons for it are- it is obvious that it is needed- as a parallel brand and as a tool within the online sales arena. With the development of online commerce-there is a chance that the 3 actor process will develop even into more. With 3 or more actors in this chain of commerce-each of them will need to be branded, to accumulate goodwill, clients and to survive.


*This article does not include any legal advice and should not be considered as such.

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