Just about everyone has their own brand these days, from Paris Hilton to the manager down the hallway. Controlling the message of your brand is key to its success. And to maintain protection of a brand or a trademark, the owner must guard against unauthorized use or infringement. Doing nothing about a known infringement situation for a long period of time can lead to laches, a legal theory that could prevent you from later enforcing any rights you may have once had; while evidence that you have vigorously pursued infringements can be used as evidence in future trademark disputes to demonstrate the strength of your brand. The rise of social media has led to increased opportunities to promote your brand but also made it easier for others to use it without permission.
As a result, consistent monitoring of your brands has great value. Here are 5 great free resources for monitoring your brands:
- Google Alerts: Google will grab items from all over the web – including news, blogs, and websites – and will then email you results matching 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).
- Social Media search: Check for usernames containing your trademarks that are registered and used on the major social media and other websites – a free search of 400 social media websites is available from KnowEm. And search frequently, or create an alert, on at least one social media search website such as socialmention or whostalkin.
- Scour the web: Search a variety of websites for variations of your trademarks. Set a monthly or quarterly “reminder” in your task or calendar program to consistently monitor. A great website for searching multiple search engines is Window1.
- Industry search: Create a bookmark list containing several main online resources in your industry. News sites, publications, blogs, etc. – any site with comprehensive and popular coverage of the relevant industry. Search quarterly on those main sites for your trademark(s).
- USPTO: The USPTO records of registered and pending trademarks can be searched for free. Check 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 which may not be identical but very similar.
Tip: Once you learn of a possible infringement, unauthorized use, or cybersquatting, consult an attorney for options to address the matter.