How to Protect Your Trademark

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Area of Law: 

How do you protect your trademark?

Most people would answer this question by saying "register it." And, this is certainly one part of the puzzle. But, simply registering your trademark isn't enough. You have to protect your trademark by watching for possible infringement and then taking appropriate action.

But, wait! Even if you have a trademark registration, you have to look for and stop others from using your brand? YES. The USPTO does not do this for you. The federal government does not do this for you. It is up to you. Nike must pay attorneys to monitor and enforce it's rights. This means watching for infringing products and counterfeits. It also means always watching for similar trademarks that people file. If someone files a trademark for NIKE for shoes, Nike will know about it and object. They don't only watch for "Nike" trademarks, but similar ones, too. They will know if someone files for "Mike" or "Nik" or Nikkie" or any variation that they feel is possible to create problems for their brand.

What happens if you don't block people who file similar trademarks? Well, your rights slowly erode over time. If you let others use and register marks that are similar to yours, then you won't be able to stop them down the road. In addition, you'll have a harder time stopping others who come later. This is because some new business that adopts a similar mark will be able to say to a court "why should I have to stop using this mark when the trademark owner has allowed so many others to use similar brands?" And, courts may agree. They apply doctrines known as laches, acquiescence and estoppel to say that a trademark owner cannot enforce their rights against someone new because of the inaction of the trademark owner.

How do you monitor your trademark? Well, the first thing to know is that the USPTO does not monitor your trademark. They say so on the USPTO site. They also warn that there are many companies posing as USPTO-looking and very official sounding, that try to get your money for some kind of monitoring service. Trademark owners get emails and official-looking mail. And most of those services don't actually monitor anything for you!

The best way to monitor your mark is to choose a service like Trademark Bank, where you pay a small fee to get real updates about possible infringement. In addition, Trademark Bank is unique because the service also tracks the deadlines and renewal dates for your trademark. That means you can ignore the junk mail. You don't have to worry about whether you are missing any dates because you'll rely only on the emails you get from Trademark Bank.

Don't let your trademark rights get whittled down or lost due to neglect. Get a watch service that automatically informs you about possible infringements.