Would you Risk Driving your Car Without Insurance?

Oops! Without insurance, this red car is an absolute write off.

Very few of us would risk driving their car uninsured. The reasoning behind it is simple. The consequences and potential exposure of driving an uninsured car are far greater than choosing to pay for the insurance premium.  

Despite this, almost 1 in 38 cars are uninsured and risk the consequences. Both in terms of potential jail time and financially – should the worst arise.

The issues are not all that different from what the Intellectual Property experts at Virtuoso Legal do day-in-day out; managing risk to our clients’ key assets, not their car, but their trade marks. 

However, while car insurance is legally compulsory, properly registering a trade mark, a business’ key asset, is not.  For the reasons we will explain below, maybe it should be!

The average value of a car these days is around £12,000, with the average insurance premium of around £450 per year. 

In contrast, a well registered and maintained trade mark can be worth vastly more (Apple’s brands are valued at around $309 billion) and even cheaper than your car insurance to secure and maintain. 

Also, cars have relatively short life spans and are depreciating assets, while trade marks can “live forever” and only continue to add value to a business as time goes on.

No Insurance

Failing registering your key brand as a trade mark is just like driving your car without insurance.

It costs you nothing to fail to register your brand as a trade mark, but if you get into a collision with another business, you have limited protection.

Virtuoso Legal are often instructed by clients who did not register their key brand as a trade mark. They risk losing their valuable brand and business altogether and, worse, you may have to pay the other “driver” money for him taking away your brand, as well as paying your own lawyers to sort out the mess.

In a recent case, a business had spent over £100,000 on stock which they “branded” with their unregistered trade mark and imported into the UK market, only to be stopped at the UK Border as they infringed another company’s registered trade mark rights.

Ouch!

A bit like driving uninsured and hitting an expensive Aston Martin.  If you can’t afford one yourself, you certainly don’t want to pay for someone else’s…

While we can seek to minimise the consequences, those who “drive” their business without the insurance of a trade mark rarely do it again!

Third Party Insurance

Many business owners view lawyers as expensive and unnecessary (to some extent, we agree!) so they either register their brands as trade marks themselves, or go for a cheap and cheerful online service and fail to obtain specialist IP advice before doing so. 

This is just like choosing to insure your expensive car on a “third party” basis.  You are covered somewhat, but we all know what happens if you cause an accident; you can wave goodbye to your once shiny car altogether!

Virtuoso Legal are all too often instructed by clients have done a DIY filing of their brand as a trade mark, or gone to the cheap and cheerful online service.

The first common reason they come to Virtuoso Legal is because their filing has been rejected by the Intellectual Property Office altogether. The cheap and cheerful online service goes “offline” at this point and they are on dark road late at night, all alone.

The second common reason they get in touch is because a large PLC has been alerted to their presence because of their DIY filing and strongly object to the registration. Worse still, the PLC now wants to shut them down and want tens of thousands of pounds in damages and legal costs.

If only they had come to Virtuoso Legal before they filed their brand as a trade mark, the team would have spotted to hazards on the road and helped calm swerve the obstacles before disaster hit.

Fully Comp

In our view, the key failure for those who have not registered their brand, or have “third party” insurance, is that they have not enlisted the advice of IP specialist from the outset.

For those who do enlist that advice, they are the businesses who, to use our car insurance analogy, have “Fully Comprehensive Insurance”.

With “fully comp”, they know that they are registering the right brand, for the right goods/services and in the right place; they know they are very likely to swerve the first obstacles of the Intellectual Property Office and that they have a brand that is unlikely to be opposed by big PLCs. 

Indeed, if they also sign up to the additional option “watching service”, they (like those PLCs) will know when another driver is on their road and can have them take another path.

Once it is time for the “driver” to sell a car, we all know it is worth a lot less than what it cost at the outset.  With a business which has had “fully comp” cover on its trade marks, that business is worth significantly more.

Conclusion

For some business owners it may be a 50/50 chance that they value their car more than their business.

(You know who you are!)

Regardless, you wouldn’t drive your car without insurance, so why run your business that way?

Cutting corners and appearing to save marginal amounts at the outset, only means more anguish when you’re moving fast and the proverbial hits the fan.

Don’t risk it, register your business’ key brands as trade marks with an IP specialist.

Would you Risk Driving your Car Without Insurance? was written by Philip Partington


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