For a few days, the Retrievers of UMBC (Univ. of Md. Baltimore County) were the darling of the NCAA basketball tournament, when they beat Duke last week and because the first men's 16 seed to defeat a 1 seed. Their brand was not prepared for the success, however. The school had never applied to protect the "Retriever" name.
While UMBC still has some rights and some claims against those who seek to make knock-off merchandise, the school will likely now find it harder and more complicated ( and more expensive) to shut down such inevitable problems than it would have been with a properly registered RETRIEVER trademark.
The school did file a few trademark applications in the days following the upset, and it is better late than never to apply to register trademarks. But had UMBC been prepared in advance they may have saved a tremendous amount of headaches, expenses, time, lawyers, and brand dilution or damage.
Proper brand protection should begin long before a brand gets its moment in the sun; it should begin when the brand launches, or even earlier.