If you’ve ever wondered about how to protect your coaching / mentoring business model, then this article is for you.
Julie Brewster, IAPC&M accredited coach, and head of HR did exactly that. So, I asked her to share with us how she achieved adding this professional goal to her extensive evidence portfolio. This is what she said.
I created and have used an evolving framework in both my HR and Coaching business for several years. I ended up with a proven framework that consistently brought my corporate and private coaching clients success with their goals.
So, I decided to plan it out formally and work out how having an acronym would make it more memorable, especially when marketing my services.
My coaching framework started out focusing on typical coaching methodology:
I gradually personalised it and my coaching framework evolved into:
And so, The PEARL Framework® was born.
Then I got nervous about talking about it. What if someone stole my idea? I noticed some coaches had ™ or ® on their programme names so got curious about how and why they did it.
Up until this point, I had never considered someone like me could have a trademark, I thought these were only for the big companies.
A Trademark ™ is not just for words, it could be your logo, a sound, a colour, or any combination of things you want to protect.
In the UK, you apply online to register a trademark through the Intellectual Property Office at https://www.gov.uk/how-to-register-a-trade-mark
There are two ways to apply for a Trademark ™ and protect your coaching model:
- You apply and pay in full and find out yes or no. If its no, you have lost your money
- The other way is by enquiry. You complete the forms, pay 50% of a slightly higher fee, and you are advised whether it is likely to be approved or not. If it is approved, you must pay the rest of the fee and submit your application. If its no, you have lost less money than if you paid in full (option 1).
I did the enquiry route. Once I had submitted my application, I used the ™ symbol to show I intended to register the name.
The fees depend on how many categories you want to register with your trademark but expect to pay at least £170.00 (current fee, August 2023).
I submitted my partial application form in March 2023. I was advised it would likely succeed in April 2023. Subsequently, I submitted the full application, and was told in May that it was now on the list for people to object to – it stays there for 2 months.
I was advised last week that The Pearl Framework is now registered. I can use the ® symbol to show The PEARL Framework® is registered with the Intellectual Property Office.
For me, having a registered framework was an important part of my business strategy; it adds gravitas, and it clearly shows my professional commitment to the coaching industry.
Having invested in my business portfolio by trademarking my coaching practice, which is just one of many professional certifications I have, all go to prove to my clients that I am a professional coach, this is not a hobby for me.
Would I recommend other coaches, do it? I think if you have created some intellectual property that is critical or unique to your business, why wouldn’t you protect it, so if it falls into the category of things, you can register then register it.
However, if you aren’t using a framework, then don’t worry about designing one today. It’s great to have one, especially if you can make one out of your name (it’s a fun exercise), but by no means essential to become a successful coach. It’s nice to have, especially if you like me are coaching in the corporate arena.
Having my coaching framework trademarked means that in the unlikely event, someone else tried to publicise The PEARL Framework®, I can take legal action against them by exercising my intellectual property rights.
By the way, if at first, you don’t succeed, try again. My first application was to register for ‘The Confident Managers Programme’. I was advised it was unlikely to succeed as it was too general.
You won’t be surprised to know that there are organisations out there that can do this for you – for a fee, but really, you don’t need them. If you get stuck, I’m told that the telephone helpline is useful if you need help with your application, I didn’t use it, but it’s there if you do.
I hope this insight into my journey helps you if you’re considering applying for a trademark to protect something you are passionate about, and if you’ve never considered applying to protect your coaching, now you know how easy it is.
Julie Brewster, Chartered MCIPD, APC
Director, HR Support 4U Ltd
♦ To subscribe here for our Coach Yourself Newsletter, see here
♦ To apply for accreditation your professional status, see here
♦ To find a coach and or a training provider see here for our free e-guides