Registering your trademark isn’t enough to maintain the benefits of IP protections. If you don’t want to lose control of your trademark, you must consistently police it and search for possible infringement. Every business should have a written policy and protocol for finding and responding to trademark infringement. Let’s take a look at a few best practices.
Pick A Territory
Decide where you will monitor and police your trademark. Do you want to monitor globally? Regionally? Nationally? Or, do you want to monitor your trademark in a single state? How widely you monitor and police your trademark will greatly depend on your type of business, its scope, and where you’ve registered your mark. If you have a business that has offices in several states and countries, you might want to monitor your mark globally. It’s important to remember that unregistered marks don’t automatically enjoy national trademark protection and U.S. trademark law does not apply in other countries.
Create A Monitoring System
Monitoring and policing your trademark can easily become a full-time job. Create a tight system for finding trademark infringement as soon as it happens. Here are a few suggestions:
- Hire a trademark monitoring service. Trademark services such as TotalTM can monitor your trademark so that you don’t have to spend valuable time policing your mark. Investing in a trademark monitoring service can save time and in the long-term cost you less money.
- Conduct periodic internet searches. Consider doing internet searches on your trademark at least four times a year. Oftentimes a simple internet search can turn up the most obvious trademark infringement but a good trademark monitoring service can catch the hidden infringement using programs such as Thompson Reuters.
- Search federal and state trademark databases. Someone may register a trademark very similar to yours without doing a comprehensive search first. You can find these infringements by conducting a periodic search of the USPTO website and any relevant state websites.
- Setup an alert. Use social media and search engine alert services such as Google Alerts so that you get notified every time your trademark or brand is mentioned online. Most of the time alert services are free or low-cost but they are worth the investment and can give you an early detection system for trademark infringement.
Respond To Infringement
Not every trademark infringement incident needs to become a lawsuit, but you should have in place a system for promptly responding to infringers and escalating any chronic violators.
- Use cease and desist letters. These simple letters can quickly notify an infringer that they are using your trademark without authorization, and it is evidence that you took action if you need to escalate the situation to a lawsuit.
- Retain an IP attorney. Cease and desist letters need not come from an IP attorney but having a lawyer send the letter lets infringers know that you’re serious about protecting your intellectual property. Trademark services companies will draft and send cease and desist letters on your behalf you’ve identified an infringer.
If you allow others to misuse your trademark and fail to actively police your trademark, you could lose your IP protection.