Trademarks rank among your brand’s most valuable assets. As a result, it is essential that you do everything in your power to enforce your trademark rights.
Trademarks are intended to validate the source of the products or services that your company provides. Effectively, a trademark communicates to consumers the brand’s identity, helping them to select the right product from the store’s shelves. However, a trademark is even more than that. It signifies the reputation or goodwill that your brand has worked hard to build over the years.
This means that when someone abuses your trademark rights, it’s no small matter. Accordingly, it is essential that you remain vigilant when it comes to protecting your trademarks.
How Is a Trademark Enforced?
Imagine that you have discovered a competitor in your industry that is using a logo that is confusingly similar to yours. You’re worried and outraged, and you’re determined to take immediate action.
If you consult with a trademark attorney, you’ll soon discover that the accepted course of action is to send a cease and desist letter. The letter is addressed to the infringer who may be acting either knowingly or unknowingly. That is, the infringer may be aware of your trademark and purposely infringing on your rights or the infringer may be unaware of your trademark and is consequently unknowingly infringing.
Sending a cease and desist letter frequently is all that is required to convince an infringer that they need to switch marks. What’s really critical here is that the letter be sent on official attorney letterhead. Simply put, a cease and desist letter from an attorney carries a great deal more weight with the infringer than a letter from the trademark owner would. The fact that you have retained the services of a trademark attorney demonstrates your dedication to the integrity of your mark. The infringer will almost certainly take it seriously and take immediate action.
Beyond Cease and Desist Letters
Your attorney may send a cease and desist letter, but it doesn’t always get the reaction that you hope for. It may be that the recipient of the letter doesn’t believe that their mark infringes on your rights. They may hire legal counsel of their own to defend them.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll soon be engaged in a lawsuit, although that is a possibility. Typically, your attorney and the other party’s attorney will negotiate, looking for ways that the two trademarks can coexist. As they try to hammer out an agreement, which may include the infringer selecting a new trademark, the possibility of litigation remains in the background.
A lawsuit is a last resort, but it can be a useful tool in some situations. This is just one of the reasons why it is wise to work with an attorney whenever you need to enforce your trademarks.
The Danger of Ignoring Trademark Enforcement
One of the best tips for trademark enforcement is to not ignore it. No one but you is going to handle enforcement. A business that is using your mark or one that is confusingly similar definitely does not have an interest in policing your rights. As they sell inferior products, they erode your company’s reputation, causing you to lose sales and customers.
Trademark Monitoring Ensures Better Enforcement
Savvy trademark owners work closely with an intellectual property attorney who can monitor their mark or marks. Basically, this means that your attorney, or a service that he hires, actively monitors trademark applications around the world to determine whether or not anyone is using a mark that might infringe your trademark.
If you want to get serious about enforcing your trademark, then mere registration is not enough. It is essential that you ask an IP professional to monitor the trademark to catch infringers in the act and put a stop to them.
When Do You Need to Enforce Your Trademark?
A company that’s been operating for years and has a registered trademark that is routinely monitored probably knows that potential infringers are lurking everywhere. However, this doesn’t mean that it is necessary to pursue every potential infringer with all available resources. Doing so simply isn’t feasible from business or economic standpoints.
Once again, this is why it’s sensible to work closely with a trademark attorney to enforce your rights. Your attorney can help you to determine whether or not a certain infringing party is worth pursuing.
Several factors may play a part in this decision. For instance, you may decide to enforce a trademark when the infringer is offering the same or highly similar goods that you are. If their mark is confusingly similar to yours, it may be difficult for consumers to figure out if they are buying your products or inferior products from another company. Further, if the infringer is operating in the same countries that you are, the potential for confusion and lost sales multiples.
Work With a Veteran Trademark Attorney
Whether you have a trademark that you would like to register or have enforcement concerns, contact the Law Office of Jeff Williams. We help clients pursue federal trademark registration in the U.S. and in jurisdictions around the world. Among our other services are trademark monitoring and enforcing trademark rights. With a full menu of intellectual property services available, our office is prepared to help protect some of your brand’s most valuable assets.