First posted on Commercial Law International on April 26, 2010.
So what is brand management law?
The best definition that I can give is the law or legal practice that facilitates a company or companies managing their band or brands. Yes, I know, I know the definition is a bit circular but hey what do you expect, I am a lawyer after all.
Then what is brand management?
Brand management according to BusinessDictionary.com is: the process of maintaining, improving, and upholding a brand so that the name is associated with positive results…Brand management is built on a marketing foundation, but focuses directly on the brand and how that brand can remain favorable to customers.
Brand management law (BML) is thus defined as the legal facilitation of the above process. It is a multi-disciplinary practice area and brings together many differing areas of law (Intellectual property (IP), litigation, contracts, tax, etc) but more importantly by its very nature also encompasses the non-legal (marketing, public relations, consumer care, business sensibility/sensitivity, etc).
BML is not just a simple matter of commercial awareness or knowing your clients business – both of which are important very important aspects of this area of law, however BML goes beyond either of them. That is to say it is not just a matter of discerning what the client’s interests are, then moving to put in place the requisite legal instruments that establish some right “to” or “in” and then defending said right or rights. Take for example a client that has expended millions on research and development, this client clearly has an interest in seeing a return on this expenditure, a lawyer would move to protect the client’s work product by intellectual propertizing it as much as possible (e.g. registering patents and trademarks), the lawyer would then act as a kind of sentinel, safeguarding the client’s IP through the threat (real or potential) of legal action.
BML is this but much more. Its is practice area that requires a lawyer to be able to keep the legal and non-legal in sync – always remembering that it is the brand that matters.
This practice area requires from a lawyer certain degree of intellectual flexibility. From the nature of our profession lawyers are problem solvers – some might beg to differ – to be more specific we are legal problem solvers. To put it succinctly we will find the legal solution to your business problem. And here lays the problem for many a lawyer when it comes to BML.
Lawyers are good at finding legal solutions to business problems; well that’s what we were trained to do after all. However, BML requires a lawyer to go beyond this and to realize that some times what is in fact needed is a business solution to a legal problem.
What is the difference between these two approaches, isn’t it just matter of semantics? Well, you will just have to stay tuned.