The Coffee Club started as one store, opened in Brisbane in 1989 by entrepreneurs Emmanuel Kokoris and Emmanuel Drivas.
Thanks to the pair’s successful franchising strategies, according to its website in 2016, the cafe group renowned for its logo ‘Where will I meet you’ has expanded to 400 stores in eight countries.
This success has been driven by the intellectual property (IP) focus of its founders, who understand the strength of branding in attracting and keeping customers and franchisees.
The IP strategy: trade mark registration
The founders recognised quite early the significance of registering their trade mark.
'We knew we had something so different that needed as much protection as possible from imitation. We were also developing a brand, not only for the actual cafes but for the range of products we saw resulting from the cafes' popularity,’ said Kokoris.
‘We met with a local trade mark attorney here in Brisbane, and got excellent advice on how to protect what we consider to be one of our most significant assets.
‘Our registered trade mark protects our trade name and provides us with a consistent image to the marketplace. It's all about consumer recognition.’
The Coffee Club trade mark is registered with IP Australia across a variety of classes.
Strategic registration in more than a dozen countries provides protection for what could conceivably be a global market.
The Coffee Club's visual brand is used extensively - not just on cafe signage but also on uniforms, name tags, crockery, matches, serviettes, and the packaging of its own-blend coffee beans and ground coffee packs.
The founders have also been vigilant about following up on accidental or intentional infringements of their trade mark
'Intellectual property - our trade marks, copyrighted menus, brochures and so on - all of this is just as important to us as any other business issue. Maybe more so because that is what makes us distinctive, different from the rest,’ explained Kokoris.
The Coffee Club's secure IP is attractive to potential franchisees. 'After we had gone through the disclosure document with our solicitor, he said that the IP was solid and we would be protected from local and international competitors trying to imitate The Coffee Club brand, which could threaten our investment,' says Kokoris.
The brand is also well protected internally through the franchising agreement: ‘The agreement was quite specific for how we are to use the brand .... But these guidelines offer us assurance that the brand's integrity will remain intact - every outlet owner needs to follow these guidelines so we can ensure the brand retains its value.’
Registering your IP
- Have you developed a brand? Protect it with a registered trade mark. You can learn about trade marks, search for existing trade marks and apply for a trade mark.
- Protect the way your product works with a patent. Learn about the benefits of patents, search for existing patents and get an idea of how much a patent may cost.
- Protect the way your product looks with a design. You can learn about designs, search for existing designs and apply.
- Understand your commercialisation options to monetise your IP.
- If you’re an entrepreneur or start-up our IP – your business edge magazine helps steer you through how protecting your IP can help grow your business.
- We understand the IP system can be complex so we’ve put together the basics for patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeder’s rights.