What TradeYourMark® learnt in its first 2 years – 5 key lessons

Our original business idea was that there was a huge underserved market of companies wanting to buy and sell trademarks.  This has been resoundingly confirmed by the amount of exciting projects we’ve done and the huge variety of clients approaching us. We’ve also learnt some interesting and important lessons about this market. 5 key lessons are described below:

Buying an existing brand can be a good approach for many clients

We have seen several different circumstances under which it is interesting for clients to buy existing brands:

  • Companies looking for legal security since an already registered trademark has seniority over subsequently registered ones.  Under this logic, several Chinese companies have approached us to buy trademarks that were registered in France at least 5 to 10 years ago.
  • International firms looking to build on the image and prestige of a particular country.  For example, we see international luxury goods companies finding already existing French brands attractive.
  • Companies who want to reduce the cost or time to market of a new activity or a new product launch by taking advantage of an existing trademark.

Tradeyourmark®’s service is of value to many types of clients wanting to sell brands

We have been contacted by a wide variety of potential sellers of trademarks, but three important categories are the following:

  • Entrepreneurs and small businesses in a wide variety of business sectors who are interested in selling their trademarks.  Sometimes the trademarks have been used for a number of years and the reasons for wanting to sell can be extremely varied including retirement, the failure of businesses or a desire to finance a new business project. In all cases, the owners of the trademarks want to realise the value of the brand they have invested in. 
  • Major multinationals and other large companies who want to sell portfolios of brands which they are not using.  These could be trademarks which have become dormant, trademarks which were never used for example because the product they were intended for was never launched or trademarks which have become redundant following mergers or new strategic choices. Selling the trademarks allows companies to monetise immaterial assets. Even when the value of the individual trademarks is not high, large groups may own thousands of dormant trademarks and this means that their total value is significant.  Selling unused trademarks can also reduce the legal costs of maintaining trademarks. For example, we are helping Sanofi sell several hundred trademarks registered in many countries around the world.
  • Liquidators, who have the responsibility to sell the assets of a failed company to recover as much money as possible. This may include immaterial assets such as portfolios of trademarks.

Reawakening sleeping beauty brands can be an extremely interesting business strategy

Some of the most interesting projects we have are those where companies are looking to buy historic trademarks which have prestige or nostalgic value but have been unused for some time.  The clients want to relaunch products, taking advantage of the image, public recognition and history of the brand.  To respond to their needs, TradeYourMark® analyses their target market in terms of positioning, image and fame of the targeted brand. TradeYourMark® then negotiates on their behalf with the holders of trademarks which meet these criteria.

  • One of our clients was looking to launch a prêt-à-porter fashion brand aimed at women in their 30s, 40s and 50s.  This meant that we had to find a brand which had an image of elegance and was sufficiently well-known in the 1990s. We identified 12 trademarks meeting these criteria, 4 of which were considered interesting by our client and 2 identified as priority targets. We approached the trademark owners and successfully negotiated the acquisition of Ventilo, Armand Ventilo and Ventilo easy.
  • Another client is looking for a brand associated with personal hygiene and cleaning products which was well known in the past and is suitable for mass market products
  • We have also seen interest in relaunching dormant food and drinks brands.

There is a wide variety of situations and the optimum approach needs to be tailor-made

The market for the purchase and sale of trademarks is extremely varied and TradeYourMark® has found that an approach tailored to the needs of individual buyers or seller is crucial if we are to successfully serve their needs.  There is no magic formula to finding the ideal buyer or unique reliable way to put a price on a trademark.  TradeYourMark® has very experienced professionals who can help clients find the best way to meet their business goals.

Our approach does not work for everyone

Whilst our approach works for a wide range of sellers and buyers of trademarks, we are not able to serve every client for a variety of reasons.  Some trademarks have a very narrow scope and the chance to find buyers is too limited. Some clients have unrealistic ideas of what can be achieved or unrealistic expectations about what price can be obtained for their trademark.  Some clients are looking for services beyond TradeYourMark®’s scope like disposal of physical assets.  We have realised it is important to sometimes tell them that we can’t help them and they need to find another way to achieve their goals.