Virtually every consumer interacts with technology brands every day, but most people probably don’t realize how valuable the leading brands are or how broadly they have become part of most people’s lives.
The top five most valuable tech brands are unlikely to surprise the average reader. The success of these tech companies has granted their brands public significance. This is, in part, due to the protection and distinctiveness of each individual brand’s trademark. Words with meanings divergent to their technical products and words which were entirely invented serve to protect brands from copy-cats who might profit off their massive success.
The top-valued tech brand is APPLE ($309.53 billion brand value). Most people today associate APPLE with computers, phones, music, etc., but this trademark word was initially very inventive and unique for these tech products. Which is likely why it has been such a successful trademark. Trademark attorney Nicholas Wells explains why: “Trademarks are legally more protectable if the marks are arbitrary or fanciful. Since APPLE has no association with the goods it is used in connection with, the trademark is considered to be distinctive and thus can be protected under the law.” APPLE only becomes more easily protected as its fame increases and people begin to think more of quality tech products and less of fruit when they hear the word.
GOOGLE ($309 billion brand value) comes not too far behind APPLE as the second most valuable tech brand. Alphabet, Inc., GOOGLE’s parent company, enjoys the famous recognition of its trademark. However, the trademark is nearing the point at which it is less protectable because of its fame. As people continue to use “google” as a verb for conducting a search in any online search engine, GOOGLE’s trademark becomes more generic. Companies cannot legally register trademarks for generic terms, because others with the same or similar products may need to use that term in the description of their goods and/or services. Like KLEENEX and BANDAID before them, GOOGLE is looking to distinguish its brand from other similar services to keep from becoming too generic. The obvious juxtaposition here is continuing the growth and success of the brand, while changing how people talk about it.
Microsoft and Facebook
Not so far behind are tech brands MICROSOFT ($251.24 billion brand value) and FACEBOOK ($158.97 billion brand value). These software giants have been recognized for their success for years, and it does not look as though they are going anywhere. These trademarks are more descriptive of their respective products, software and social media, respectively. However, the two trademarks have gained more than their fair share of distinctiveness through advertising and popularity.
The final name on our list is less well-known but growing quickly. TENCENT ($130.86 billion brand value) is a China-based company for digital media and telecommunications. Most people in the United States will likely recognize its holdings in gaming companies and products (from League of Legends and Clash of Clans to Overwatch). In China, the trademark is used in connection with some of the biggest social media and messaging apps in the country. Since things like GOOGLE and FACEBOOK were banned by the Communist Party in China beginning in 2011, QQ and WeChat (both owned by TENCENT) have become the leading social media and telecommunication apps. TENCENT is also beginning to compete with these bigger and more popular tech brands in online advertising sales, which could soon cause an even further spike in profits and value. TENCENT’s trademark can be identified by the Chinese characters following the word mark and is gaining distinctiveness through its many products, holdings, and investments.
These trademarks increase in value over time as these tech businesses grow and solidify their reputations for delivering high quality goods and services. The brands have become a major part of the total value of each of these companies. Along with their position as the most valuable tech companies in the world in terms of money, these brands are great examples of the importance of taking necessary steps to protect your trademarks and other forms of intellectual property.