Lessons on IP from the world’s best brands

Lessons on Intellectual Property from the world’s best brands

Whether your business is an overnight success or a slow burn, establishing and preserving a brand can be a challenging process, not least when you are having to defend it from infringement.

Megan Jefferies from the Thrings Intellectual Property team has shared her thoughts on what the biggest brands in the world can teach business owners about protecting their identity.

Coca Cola

Arguably the word’s most iconic drinks brand with its logo and branding as recognisable as its 138-year-old taste, Coca Cola (or Coke) has only made very refined amends to its branding in recent decades to ensure consistency.

When your company has been running that long, it might seem that the branding is secure but there will always be someone trying to copy, and it is down to you to ensure you are legally protected at regular intervals. You also get the opportunity to challenge any applications that are potentially similar to your own.

In the UK, trade mark registration lasts for ten years, at which point it requires renewal for another decade. Businesses of that size will have legal teams sweeping for anyone in the market copying them but even if you are only starting up, it is in your interest to stay alert to the prospect of anyone trying to imitate you.


Choosing a brand name that sends a message is an important way to establish your brand. By naming their sports goods business after the ancient Greek goddess of victory, Nike definitely made a statement that their products were for winners.

The company is well known for the success of its various brand extensions and sports ranges (Nike Air alone generates billions of dollars each year!) and each time they reinvent themselves or diversify further, the company is quick to trademark and protect its newest IP.

It’s “Just Do It” tagline is one of the most recognised slogans in the world and by trademarking such a simple phrase, it prevents competitors from capitalising on Nike’s brand recognition and keeps them at the top of their game.

Harry Potter

Not only the brand responsible for igniting a love of reading in children for the past three decades, the series about the Boy who Lived is a prime example of intellectual property management.

Trade marks are registered in respect of specific goods or services and those goods and services are divided into 45 different groups known as classes – for example, food, precious metals, legal services – and there are few remaining that Harry Potter isn’t covered for.

Having taken care to protect the characters, storylines and every other element of the wizarding universe, J.K. Rowling has expanded the trade mark range to include everything from films and spin-offs to merchandise and computer games whilst retaining full control of the brand.


No idea is too small that it cannot make a difference and when Amazon patented its one-click purchase option, it raised the bar for online shopping, and helped to make it the biggest e-commerce company in the world.

This patent, however, sparked controversy and debate over the protection of a seemingly simple process with Amazon taking a number of its competitors to court over alleged infringement. Eventually the company gave up the patent with plenty of online shops now offering a similar payment option showing just how sought after the concept was – despite being a simple button.


In the toy market, everyone is a competitor, but no-one does it like Barbie!

The wave of pink that washed across 2023, supported by a reported $100million marketing budget, made Margot Robbie’s blockbuster one of the most successful films of all time. By sharing its iconic image through a plethora of partnership deals – from food and cosmetics to AirBnB and dating apps - the Barbie brand was everywhere.

(You can read more about what we thought of Barbie when it was first released here.)

Such collaborations are great to increase awareness of your brand and can be really appealing from a revenue generation perspective, but it is important to ensure that contracts are thoroughly inspected to avoid the potential for disputes.

Thrings’ Intellectual Property lawyers are experienced in safeguarding brands and trademarks from infringement and have successfully advised multinational organisations on a range of matters from IP disputes, including copyright infringement, and trademark registration to managing diverse portfolios and worldwide expansions. To find out how they can help protect your IP rights, get in touch.


Thrings intellectual property lawyers

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