Co-branding: An opportunity with dangers
Co-branding is a great way to grow your brand and reach new markets. Examples include combinations of Oreo and Dunkin' Donuts or Huggies and Disney characters. It can also be a great way for a company that is starting out to partner with a more established brand to take advantage of better distribution channels or manufacturing capability.
But its not all upside. There are issues to be aware of. For example, without enough control over the use of your mark, you could lose the rights in your mark: the problem of naked licensing.
There are other considerations too: Should there be territorial limitations to the agreement or will the agreement be exclusive?
The parties will also want to make it clear that any goodwill created by the use of their respective marks inures to the benefit of the original owners. It is also important that the ownership of any new marks created for the co-branding be made clear in advance.
And if your trademark registration does not include the category of goods and services covered by the co-branding efforts, you probably want to file a new registration. That will strengthen your position in any agreement and make it easier to defend the co-branding efforts in court.
An experienced attorney can help you work through these and other issues related to your particular co-branding plans.