The Importance Of Protecting Your Trademark
Most company’s trademarks are extremely valuable assets and represent a significant percentage of the company’s worth. Brand recognition creates customer goodwill and promotes customer satisfaction, which leads to increased sales. Because of this, it is critical to maintain protection of these intangible assets. To achieve this protection, it is important for business owners to be proactive in policing trademarks against infringement and unlawful use by third parties. Failure to do so can result in a diminished value of the mark itself and potentially devastating losses to the business’s bottom line.
Widespread use of a mark without authorization can even cause a trademark to lose significance altogether, leading to the failure of the company as a whole. These unwanted results highlight the importance of policing your trademark in order to protect its value and your profits. Our trusted trademark and copyright lawyers refer clients to the United States Patent and Trademark Office “USPTO” website, which clearly states,
“you are responsible for enforcing your rights if you receive a registration, because the USPTO does not “police” the use of marks. While the USPTO attempts to ensure that no other party receives a federal registration for an identical or similar mark for or as applied to related goods/services, the owner of a registration is responsible for bringing any legal action to stop a party from using an infringing mark.”
USPTO, Basic Facts About Trademarks: What Every Small Business Should Know Now, Not Later
Options for Protecting Trademarks
So how exactly does a business engage in trademark protection? The key to effective policing involves developing a company enforcement policy to review the market in which your trademarks thrive, and stop infringements as early as possible. The following are common options in effective policing of trademarks:
Option #1: Trademark Watching Service
The most aggressive approach to protect your trademarks is to subscribe to a trademark watching service. These are services in which a vendor analyzes newly published trademark applications in the territory of choice, nationally or internationally, and sends timely notice of any identical or confusingly similar marks. Such services also can provide notice of common law trademark use for infringement, resulting in heightened trademark protection. The cost of these services can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars per year, depending on a number of factors.
Option #2: Clearance Search Report
Another approach is to order a trademark clearance search report on key terms. Some companies order comprehensive search reports prior to using a trademark in order to assess the availability of a proposed mark for use and registration. However, these reports can also be used to monitor the marketplace for possible infringements. The reports often contain a large amount of information from many sources such as state and federal trademark registers, domain names, trade dictionaries, telephone books, business names and common law trademarks. These companies can easily search variations of the mark as well as the identical mark.
Option #3: Internet Searches
The easiest way to police your trademarks is to scour the internet for confusingly similar or identical marks. In today’s world, a lot of companies exist only online. Because of this, it is extremely important to have a program in place to monitor the web. Companies should educate their employees to police their trademarks via internet search. Searches should include key terms but also similar terms using various search engines. Searches should also target social media sites where many businesses advertise.
Businesses should also be mindful of their industries and monitor resources in their industry for identical or confusingly similar marks. For example, review magazines, periodicals, or publications in the industry may provide clues as to possible infringement of company’s existing trademark.
In today’s increasingly competitive world, it is important to formulate a policy which is effective in policing and protecting your company’s brand—that intangible value added which helps your company thrive and succeed. A failure to implement effective step to ensure your business is engaging in effective trademark protection against infringement and unlawful use will often lead to a loss of good will and sales for your company. Contact the experienced trademark and copyright lawyers at Gehres Law Library today for a free evaluation or to learn more about the importance of policing your trademarks, or browse our website for more information.