The following is a transcript of my video, How to Monitor for Infringements.
In the past, I’ve talked 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 today 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’s an important part of keeping your registration and your 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. And 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 the examiners are searching USPTO records for you for possible obstacles, confusion citations, all the time. But you can enhance that yourself by searching the USPTO records every quarter, let’s say at least once a year, for any possible infringements that might come up, for any possible conflicts, and 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. This 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. You can sign up and tell it what it to search for and how often to alert. You may have to narrow it if you’re getting too many results and you can play around with that, but free alerts will email you when they find results. And you can have settings—how you want to be emailed, immediately or weekly, etc. 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 they do then 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.
The bottom line is that monitoring for infringements does not need to be expensive or burdensome, it just needs to be done.