Trademarks serve a number of important functions for businesses and consumers alike. A trademark validates the source of a product or service. It helps consumers distinguish between companies and know the quality of the products they purchase. A trademark also carries with it all the reputation that a brand builds. It’s no small issue when others abuse that mark, either knowingly or unknowingly. In this article, we’ll talk about a few strategies you can use to protect your brand’s trademark.
Trademarks are enforced through cease and desist letters. Sending a cease and desist letter to the address of the infringer is usually the first course of action. In many cases, a cease and desist letter will be enough to persuade an infringer to leave your mark alone. If that doesn’t work, the next level is to file a lawsuit. It’s important to work with trademark attorneys at this point. If the infringer used your mark intentionally, they may have to pay for damages and your legal fees.
In American trademark law, the first entity to use a trademark in commerce owns the mark, whether it has been registered or not. However, registering your mark allows you to file lawsuits in federal court. You can also defend a mark before you’ve used it in commerce through an intent-to-use application. This can last in six month increments up to three years. You do have to prove that you’ve used the mark in developing your product or service.
If you don’t enforce your trademark, no one’s going to enforce it for you. The business (or criminal enterprise) that is taking advantage of your rights won’t just police itself. If you don’t enforce your trademark, you risk losing reputation, business, sales, customers, and more to the infringer.
There’s also a concept in trademark law called abandonment. Generally, if you don’t use your mark for three years or more, it’s considered abandoned. At that point, you won’t have any legal standing to defend your trademark. To use your mark, you need to prove that you’ve sold products or services with packaging, advertising, or other digital or physical materials that contain the trademark.
It isn’t enough to simply register a trademark. While your company may have one or multiple trademarks registered with an office like the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), those offices won’t actively monitor your trademark. Setting up trademark monitoring is the duty of the trademark owner.
Without active monitoring, infringers may end up using your mark without your knowledge. A trademark infringer won’t stop using your service mark out of their goodwill, especially if they are trying to take advantage of your reputation. You can do a trademark search of USPTO or EUIPO filings regularly and watch to see if any newer applications could be confused with yours. A more secure way to monitor your trademark is to use expert trademark monitoring services.
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re a busy person. Whether you run a marketing department or have bootstrapped your own company, there are a lot of things on your agenda. Manually searching the internet for trademark infringers takes a lot of time, and it’s probably not at the top of your list.
That’s perfectly fine. With a trademark monitoring service, you can make use of enforcement experts and artificial intelligence to speed up the process and keep your trademark secure. Here are a few main things that a trademark monitoring service can do.
One of the main benefits of a trademark protection service is that the best programs use artificial intelligence and algorithms to regularly scan the web for infringements. This includes standalone websites, ecommerce marketplaces, and social media platforms. And with image recognition, the algorithms can spot your brand’s trademark design within photos and graphics online.
Sending cease and desist letters is the bread and butter of trademark enforcement. Automated trademark monitoring services can send these types of demand letters when certain conditions are met or when you give the “OK” to enforce on many infringers at once.
A monitoring service can also speed up the enforcement process. Algorithms can scan the web much faster than an in-house team working around the clock. And if you prefer to use your own legal team, the system ensures the team spends time on active threats instead of busywork.
The best trademark protection programs also include easy-to-use software that can organize everything from threats to enforcements and cases in one place. This is much easier than managing multiple spreadsheets with different types of data. You can see what’s going on at a glance.
Leading trademark protection programs don’t just leave you to your own devices. You also have access to a team of expert analysts who can help you solve problems and predict new trends. For example, there might be good reasons to keep your eye on sellers that use Instagram even if your company doesn’t use the social platform.
At the end of the day, a trademark protection program is only as good as the results. With a comprehensive system for detection, monitoring, and enforcement, you can calculate your return on investment and see how many infringements have been shut down or avoided. Who knows, maybe you could secure 5%, 10%, or more revenue if all of the trademark infringements were shut down.
In today’s world, the brand name can be everything. Once you have a trademark, you have to protect it. Enforcement is much quicker and easier with a comprehensive trademark and brand protection solution. From sending automatic cease and desist letters to consolidating all enforcement information in one place, Red Points’ brand protection solution helps you keep your trademark and business secure.