One of the largest mistakes that a new trademark owner can make is believing that once their trademark is registered, no further action is needed–on the contrary, the maintenance responsibilities that come with a federal registration are imperative to the mark’s well-being. In order to protect the trademark from infringement, owners must ensure that they have a substantial enforcement program in place.
The lengths to which a trademark owner enforces their trademark determines the scope of their rights within that registration. While it may be difficult to immediately quantify the investment made by a trademark enforcement program, protecting the registration is always a worthwhile expenditure especially when compared to the dollars spent during litigation. To properly defend their trademarks, businesses must prioritize the monitoring of their mark and the regular policing of the marketplace.
1. Monitor Your Trademark
The first part of any enforcement agenda is instilling the capabilities to fully monitor the trademark. Setting up a service specifically for monitoring incoming applications to the federal government’s trademark database is a great first step; this service will notify you if any new applications are overtly similar to yours and allow you to take action against any that may infringe upon your trademark rights. Many of these cases are settled amicably and prior to any true infringement actually occurring.
Additionally, setting up a Google alert is another strategic way to monitor any activity that may infringe upon your trademark rights. These notifications use Google’s search engine to find websites that mention the term you specify, allowing you to be immediately warned of content in which your mark, whether intentionally or accidentally, is named.
Lastly, as more and more consumerism moves online, many businesses take advantage of social media platforms to capture a wider customer audience. With this transition comes the removal of regional and physical boundaries that may have previously separated businesses with similar branding or product names. Now, it is more important than ever for trademark owners to regularly check social media for use of your trademark outside of your business or brand.
To learn why it is essential for everyone to monitor their trademark, click here.
2. Determine the Appropriate Enforcement Action
The second major component of a thorough enforcement regimen is policing the marketplace for possible infringement upon your trademark. In order to do this correctly, a definite understanding of the potential types of infringement is necessary; incidental, nefarious, and non-actionable infringement matters are among those most commonly seen.
Once an infringement case is identified, the next steps depend on the previously-determined type of matter that is taking place. Examples of enforcement action include letters of protest, take-down notices, and lawsuits. It is never advisable for a trademark owner to take action against a potential infringer without first consulting an experienced trademark attorney–the nature of the relationship between the two parties and, ultimately, the outcome of the entire negotiation, can rest upon these first crucial interactions.
Overall, when looking to fully protect the entirety of your trademark rights, it is important to maintain a rigorous enforcement program that monitors your mark and polices the marketplace. These steps are facilitated by the assistance of experienced trademark counsel that can assist with monitoring services, handling online infringement, and issuing enforcement matters when necessary. Gerben Law Firm offers trademark enforcement services that meet individual client needs (Learn More).
If you have questions regarding the scope of your trademark rights or wish to discuss a possible infringement matter, please contact one of the attorneys at Gerben Law Firm for a free consultation.