Selfish Policies in the Name of Brand Protection

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Home > Articles > Selfish Policies in the Name of Brand Protection

 Selfish Policies in the Name of Brand Protection

Tan Chee Teik | General
October 5, 2018
​Many companies go out of their way to protect their brand names. Some of their solutions may seem to be extreme but they do it to retain value in their brands.

THERE was an outcry from consumers when they learnt that British luxury goods maker Burberry had destroyed finished products worth about S$51 million this year. This was done to guard against counterfeiting and to protect its intellectual property.

After a public outcry on such wastage, BBC reported on 6 September 2018 that Burberry has announced that it will stop the burning of unsold goods. The company said that it already reused, repaired, donated, or recycled unsold products, but it would continue to increase these efforts.

Now you know why luxurious branded products do not have discounted sales at all. They see value in scarcity. London-based Burberry is not alone in such practices. Swedish clothing retailer, H&M, sends its discarded clothing to be used as fuel in a power plant northwest of Stockholm.

At fashion house, Michael Kors, it was reported that if the watches didn’t keep time correctly, they would damage them and just classify it as a loss.

Singaporeans waste a lot of unconsumed food every day. These could be uneaten food at buffets, excess food prepared for feasts at hotels, or unsold perishable food from supermarkets and cake shops. Parties participating in collecting and distributing the food to charities include Marina Bay Sands, The Food Bank Singapore, RedMart, and Hilton Singapore Hotel, among others.

Burberry does not destroy unsold goods after public outcry.

Rather than send such leftovers to the garbage dumps, volunteers help to collect and pack the food and send them to those in need. They take great pains to ensure that the food is not spoilt and that it is eaten within hours of delivery.

On 20 August 2018, a batch of milk powder by French company Danone's Dumex was recalled by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) after traces of bacteria harmful to infants were found in the product.

The affected batch of Dumex Mamil Gold Infant Milk Formula, Step 1 (850g), with the batch number 09117R1 and expires on 11 Sept 2019, was manufactured in Malaysia and was contaminated with the Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria. Dumex has spent millions of dollars over the years to promote the brand to mothers. This recall has damaged the brand name and it has also affected other milk products in the range. Knowing how careful mothers are about milk formula for their infants, they are prepared to switch to other brands and let brand loyalty go out of the window.

Oprah Brand Protection
You must have heard of American media proprietor, Ms Oprah Winfrey. This talk-show host and billionaire entrepreneur owns Harpo Studios, O Magazine, and OWN Network. She takes great care to protect her trademarks and branding to prevent brand dilution. 

Writing in, attorney Ms JA Williams suggests several legal strategies used by Ms Winfrey to protect her intellectual property. Companies should spend some money to trademark their brand name. Then you need to scan the Internet to ensure that others are not using your mark to sell their goods. Google alerts can help to do some of the policing work for you.

Every time you find someone using your mark without authorisation, send them a “cease and desist” letter or what is called a “take down notice”. You should be prepared to follow up with legal action, if necessary.

Ensure that your contractors and employees sign agreements that state they cannot use your intellectual property for their personal or business use.

These few steps to protect your branding will go a long way to keeping off brand pinchers from your intellectual property.

Brands are not built up overnight. Successful brands such as Coca-Cola, Singapore Airlines, or Capitaland, have invested much in many years of product development, marketing, and public relations to build up trust and reputation.

All worthy products will be copyrighted or patented to protect the manufacturer against another party from copying its design, and elements of its design such as its logo or special colours in the logo. They would register the name and logo as trademarks and are prepared to take imitators to court.

Companies such as McDonald’s go the distance to protect their Big Macs image. Even if you sell “nasi lemak” and call it “Nasi leMac” they will bring you to court. It takes huge legal fees to defend your coconut rice product from their lawyers. Their motto is protect it, or lose it.

Mr Tan Chee Teik is a freelance journalist. He is a regular contributor to M360 and Today’s Manager. 

Copyright © 2018 Singapore Institute of Management

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