Why You Should Consider Trademark Monitoring
Securing federal trademark registration is only the beginning of the process of protecting your trademark. Once you’ve registered your mark you must maintain it, and one of the key elements of maintaining your mark is trademark monitoring. This means watching diligently for others making unauthorized use of your mark or attempting to register confusingly similar marks. Here are a few things you should know about trademark monitoring.
Why Is Trademark Monitoring Important?
The USPTO registers trademarks, but it doesn’t monitor or enforce them—that’s up to the trademark owner. In fact, once you’ve acquired trademark rights, you have a duty to maintain your trademark by enforcing those rights. Typically, the earlier you can address an unauthorized use of your mark, the easier the situation is to resolve. On the other hand, the more time and money a potential infringer has invested in using your mark, the more likely they are to fight a claim of infringement. Trademark monitoring helps you to find and address cases of unauthorized use or infringement earlier rather than later. As an added bonus, the fact that you vigorously protect against unauthorized use of your trademark may also be used as evidence of the strength of your mark in future infringement disputes. In short, assertive trademark monitoring generally equals earlier, easier resolution of disputes and stronger protection for your trademark.
Trademark monitoring is also important because it alerts you to when you may need to oppose competing trademark registrations. As a trademark owner, you have a right to object to any new trademark applications that you believe may harm your trademark. While the USPTO will search its database of registered and pending marks as part of the registration process, it’s possible they may still approve a mark that you believe is confusingly similar to your own. Therefore, it’s vital that you proactively monitor your trademark so you can dispute the registration of confusingly similar marks in a timely fashion.
What Should Be Monitored and Why?
Truly robust trademark monitoring involves keeping tabs on a wide variety of information. Here are a few examples of what the kinds of information you should be looking for:
- USPTO trademark applications. As discussed above, it is important monitor USPTO filings to guard against others attempting to register trademarks that are too similar to yours.
- State trademark and business filings databases. Not all trademark owners seek federal registration. Checking state trademark filings and filings for new business names can give you additional insight into who may be looking to use a trademark that infringes your own.
- Search engine results. Despite the many benefits of registration, some individuals or entities go into business without ever filing for any kind of protection. Therefore, to get the full picture of what trademarks are actually being used in commerce, it’s worthwhile to regularly search for your mark in a variety of major search engines. Consider setting up Google Alert with your trademark name so you get automatic notifications whenever Google updates its index.
- Usernames on major social media platforms and other websites. One of the most common ways for someone to make unauthorized use of your mark is to “squat” (i.e., register it as a username) on it on social media.
If you’d like to hear more about how we can use trademark monitoring to help you protect one of your most valuable business assets, call or email us to schedule a time to talk.