Aggressively enforce your trademarks without stepping over the line

Securing and enforcing your company's trademarks is important to maintaining your reputation. Take care not to step over the line.

Your company works hard to establish its brand. Each business in California understands the importance of securing its place in the commercial market. Accomplishing success in your chosen industry often requires sophisticated marketing strategies, substantial investments of money, long hours and diligent enforcement of registered trademarks, patents, copyrights and other assets of intellectual property.

The internet and e-commerce have expanded the reach of every business to the far corners of the earth, bringing success to small companies and allowing larger organizations to grow. However, with the wide dissemination of your logos, trademarks and products comes the constant threat of unauthorized use of your images and ideas, whether intentionally or by mistake.

Opposing trademark infringement

It is important to take a number of steps necessary to protect your trademark rights. The first step a business must take is to register the mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The business must also actively use the registered trademark in the marketplace, following a "use it or lose it" mentality. There are instances when a mark may be reserved for later use but legal guidelines must be followed.

Trademark law then requires owners to enforce their trademark rights or risk losing the protections afforded them. Diligent monitoring and active searching for the same or similar marks are necessary to safeguard your rights. Opposing trademark infringement should include the following:

  • Accompany the trademark with the ® symbol if it is registered with the USPTO.
  • Send a letter to the offender demanding that it cease and desist use of the trademark or a mark that is substantially similar to yours.
  • File a lawsuit to stop unauthorized use and obtain compensation for losses incurred by another's use of your trademark.
Trademark bullying

The USPTO allows a "reasonable" amount of enforcement. However, the interpretation of the USPTO rules is subjective and the reaction of the recipient of a cease-and-desist letter may affect what constitutes harassment and intimidation.

An upstart company may complain when a larger business requests that it stop using a registered trademark, taking offense and accusing the established business of trademark bullying. If the USPTO believes the one enforcing its trademark has crossed the line of reasonableness, it may side with an individual or smaller company. Trademark infringement litigation can drag a reputable business through the mud so it is important to have assistance every step of the way.

Hire a lawyer

If you own a business or use a brand, trademark or other intellectual property, consult an experienced internet and business law attorney. A lawyer knowledgeable about enforcement of your rights can help in the event of an infringement.

Keywords: trademark, trademark infringement, intellectual property