Losing a trademark battle can have devastating effects on your business.
Fighting to protect a trademark in court is also expensive and time-consuming.
The monetary cost is excruciating, the attention can be disastrous, and you could be forced to rework your entire marketing strategy.
Protecting your trademarks is a never-ending battle — but a lot of companies make it harder than it has to be, or they fail to effectively monitor their trademarks, leaving themselves vulnerable. It doesn’t have to be this way.
There is a way to effectively monitor and protect your trademarks without overspending or hiring an army to review watch reports day and night. Understanding the steps to take, leveraging new technology, and integrating your processes can make protecting trademarks much easier.
Protecting Your Trademarks
A good defensive game plan starts with the offense.
Before registering, it’s important to have complete certainty that you aren’t walking the fine line of brand confusion. Because, without knowing you can defend it, the mark may be expensive to protect or, in the worst cases, already lost.
2. Register Everything Associated with Your Mark
Once you’re sure there’s no chance of confusion with your mark, it’s important to register everything around it. This includes your company’s name, logo, slogans, and product names. Anything that references your trademark should be registered at the same time.
By owning these marks, you’re stopping someone else from grabbing them for themselves. In the same manner, you should register any ideas you have for future use. Protecting them now means you’re guaranteed to have them later.
Until you register the marks in your portfolio, keep them hidden from your competitors. If they register a mark before you put it into use, it will force you to rework your marketing plan, or pay them for the rights.
3. Register All of Your Social Handles
Few things would be worse than registering your businesses name but losing the ability to have matching social profiles. A large portion of digital marketing falls on those social media accounts and having identical names can be the difference between a customer finding you or finding your competitor.
Register “@mycompany” on Twitter, and Facebook.com/”mycompany” to maintain rights to them. Do the same for any brand pages or products for which you plan to run separate profiles.
Online Account Profiles You Should Consider Claiming:
- Google Plus
Note: Depending on the service or product, some of these may not be relevant. For instance, food products might not have to worry about software development platforms, like GitHub. Still, it doesn’t hurt to reserve your trademark on any platforms that are even remotely relevant.
4. Maintain Your Registration
When it comes to registering with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), you need to stay up to date with your mark’s status. The USPTO will not send reminders for maintenance documents.
Between the 5th and 6th years after a mark’s registration date, you’ll be required to update documentation. If you fail to complete the paperwork, your mark could be canceled or lost.
Although they may not warn you before this happens, the USPTO will at least stop other similar or confusing marks from being registered. This is helpful, but any other issues surrounding marks are up to you to monitor.
5. Monitor Your Marks
Monitor your trademarks — it sounds simple, but you would be surprised how many trademarks are just sitting there with no one paying attention to them.
If you have a lot of trademarks don’t be tempted to watch only your “crown jewel” marks.
Trademarks that you might deem less important shouldn’t be left to collect dust in a filing cabinet somewhere. If a trademark is compromised, then someone has to give an account as to why it wasn’t being watched. Some countries are adopting a judicial stance where, if you weren’t watching your trademarks, the judge would look unfavorably on your case in court.
Your Trademark Defense
Maintaining a strong trademark monitoring strategy is your key to establishing a thorough defense.
By keeping tabs on what trademarks your competitors are registering, you’re able to stay a few steps ahead. Monitor for trademark infringements and brand confusion in order to defend your brand, your business, and your customers.
Doing this doesn’t have to be hard. Leveraging modern technology and human expertise can make it easier and provide you with a more comprehensive strategy.
Check out Corsearch’s ExpertWatch solution and service to monitor your portfolio and your competitors and to spot any similar marks you’re missing!