The following is an edited transcript of my video, How to Monitor for Infringements.
In the past, you’ve heard me talk about some of the ways to keep a trademark strong over time and some of the things that brand owners must do with their trademarks even after they’re registered. One of those important tips is to monitor for infringements. I want to talk briefly about how you go about monitoring for infringements and you’ll see that it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money and it is an important part of keeping a registration and a brand strong over time. Monitoring for infringements means looking out for other brands, other uses that might be too similar to your trademark or might be unauthorized uses of your actual brand. The way that you monitor for these things is to search in a variety of ways and the key is to learn about them as quickly as possible, because the quicker that you react to an infringement, the more likely you are to resolve it quickly and affordably.
The first tip for monitoring is to search the USPTO records. If you have a trademark registration, you’re in the USPTO’s database and examiners are searching USPTO records for you—for possible obstacles, confusion citations—all the time. You can enhance that yourself by searching the USPTO records every quarter, or at least once a year, for any possible infringements that might come up or any possible conflicts. Then you could track the status of those applications or contact the applicants if necessary. You can also search online and I recommend that you set up a recurring task or reminder to do this quarterly, search major search engines, search some major industry sites in your industry, search top social media sites and search for your trademark and variations. Possibly slightly different spellings and other things and you may have multiple trademarks and you want to search each of them individually. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time. By setting this up to do it quarterly, you’ll be staying on top of any possible situations so that you can react as quickly as possible.
Another great tip for monitoring is to create free alerts. Google has free alerts, there are some other services out there and you can sign up and tell it what you want it to search for. You may have to narrow it if you’re getting too many results, but they will then email you when they find results. These are some great tips for monitoring for possible infringements of your brand.
There are paid services that do all this, that use artificial intelligence, use a variety of search engines. They’re great, but they are rather costly and create volumes of data that you still need to go over. Somebody needs to review that data to see if any of the findings should be flagged and dealt with..