To maintain and increase protection for a trademark, the owner must guard against unauthorized use or infringement. Generally, the sooner such a situation is discovered the easier it is to resolve, and the less impact it will pose on the trademark owner. Conversely, the more money an infringer or cybersquatter has invested in their business, name, or website, the more likely they are to put up a fight against a claim of infringement. Doing nothing about an infringement situation for a long period of time while you have knowledge of it can lead to laches, a legal theory that could prevent you from later trying to enforce any rights you may have once had. Conversely, evidence that you have vigorously pursued infringements can be used as evidence in future trademark disputes to demonstrate the strength of a trademark.
As a result, consistent monitoring of a business’ trademarks has great value — finding and addressing infringement situations quickly results in: less money spent on the situations (generally) and stronger trademarks.
Here are 5 free resources for monitoring your brands:
- Google Alerts: Google will grab items from all over the web – including news, blogs, and websites – and email you results containing a match for your trademark. You can be alerted daily, weekly, or “as it happens.” This is a wonderful resource. If you have a name with multiple words, consider using quotes. Also consider creating several alerts with variations of your trademark(s) in spelling and spacing (and singular vs. plural).
- Scour the web: Search a variety of websites for variations of your trademarks. Set a “reminder” in your task or calendar program to do this monthly. A great website for searching multiple search engines is Window1.
- Industry search: Make a bookmark list of several main online resources in your industry. News sites, publications, blogs, etc. – any site with comprehensive and popular coverage of the relevant industry. Search on those main sites for your trademarks quarterly.
- USPTO: Free trademark searches at the USPTO. Search quarterly for any new applications that might be infringements of your trademarks. Consider variations in spelling, sound and spacing in your searching to capture names they may not be identical but very similar.
- Username search: Check for usernames containing your trademarks that are registered and used on the major social media and other websites. Free search of 400 social media websites available from KnowEm.
Tip: Once you learn of a possible infringement, unauthorized use, or cybersquatting, consult an attorney for options to address the matter.