Importance of Trademark Monitoring
Keeping a trademark strong is an ongoing process. The trademark owner must monitor and take action when there is unauthorized use or infringement. The sooner an issue is identified and addressed, the easier it is to resolve and it typically has less impact and cost.
If someone has spent 10 years using your trademark, they may be heavily invested in the name and are more likely to fight harder to keep it. If they just thought of the name yesterday and created a simple site to get started, it will be easier for them to change names than to hire an attorney to fight a lawsuit.
If you have knowledge of infringement and do nothing for long periods of time, you may be prevented from keeping your trademark rights.
Reasons to protect your trademark
- You could lose business to a competitor
- Your reputation can suffer if a competitor using your trademark has poor service or products
- You could lose trademark protection if you do not enforce your rights (called genericide)
- Increased costs to distinguish your brand
Monitor your trademark to identify marks that are similar to yours
- Regularly check for new trademark filings in the USPTO that are similar to yours
- Monitor the Internet, social media and the marketplace
*Remember not all infringement will come from those registering your mark in the USPTO
Take action (consult an attorney to identify your options)
Here are some common actions you might take
- File an opposition to a trademark registration
- Send a “cease and desist” letter
- Negotiate a resolution with the other party
- File an infringement lawsuit
Free resources for monitoring
Remember you are looking for similarities to your trademark and anything that will likely cause your customers confusion.
Monitor the web for results matching your mark. Use quotation marks if you have multiple words. Consider creating several alerts with different variations including different spellings, spacing, etc.. These alerts can be daily, weekly or “As-it-happens”
Search a variety of websites using search engines or services that search multiple search engines. You can search images, news, shopping, and videos. You can also create a list of resources: blogs, publications, etc. that include coverage of your specific industry.
If your mark is an image or logo, you can also search using an image (in Google search engine select images, then choose the camera icon to select the image you want to look for).
Conduct free trademark searches at the USPTO
Search for new applications that infringe your mark in the USPTO’s Trademark Official Gazette (TMOG). These marks are soon to be registered. You have 30 days to oppose a mark from publication.
Check for usernames that contain your trademark on popular social media sites. One simple way is to use a site like Knowem.com to search various social media sites.
State and business filings databases
Not all trademarks are registered on a federal level. Search each state for trademark filings and business filings. States are not required to check the USPTO before they register trademarks or business entities.
Google alerts are a good way to identify users on the web. However, there may be offline places that sell products/services for your industry. Be aware of usage in the marketplace.
Set reminders on your calendar to monitor your trademark on a regular basis.
Take action once you have identified an issue. If you think your trademark, or something similar is being used and will confuse your customers, take action immediately.
In this meeting we will discuss:
- How to keep your trademark protection strong
- How to use your mark properly
- Monitoring the USPTO, internet, social media, etc. for marks that are similar to yours
- How to enforce your trademark
- Options for international trademark protection
- Next steps to keep your trademark registration active
- Developing a custom strategy for monitoring & enforcing your trademark; this includes action items your business can implement today, without additional cost, to increase the strength of your mark