Trademarks are an important part of protecting your intellectual property, strengthening the legal position of your brand, and carving out a chunk of a market in which you can make a profit unhindered by competition trying to ride your coattails. However, trademarks are not a set-it and forget-it solution. Trademark enforcement requires constant monitoring in order to ensure that other companies and individuals are not infringing on your rights as a mark holder.
Thankfully, it’s easier to monitor your trademark now than it has ever been before. You don’t have to wait days or weeks for print publications to arrive on your doorstep or correspondence to crisscross the country. Most of what you need is sitting right in front of you—your computer.
The Importance of Monitoring Your Trademarks
While securing a registered trademark is a sizable step toward locking down your profit centers and building a brand based on a name, a design, a slogan, logo, or even an iconic color, trademarks are not foolproof. The government may issue these legally enforceable trademark registrations, but they do not actively seek out infringers or prosecute them for trademark infringement—that’s your job.
For instance, if you trademark the name “Cozy Kitty” for your line of cat treats and toys, there’s nothing but your vigilance stopping others from marketing similar products under the name Cozy Kitten or Cozy Kitty-Kat. Indeed, there’s nothing stopping a pet daycare center from marketing itself as Cozy Kitty Kottage or Cozy Kitty Kondos.
Essentially, your vigilance is the only thing keeping your trademark safe. In the post below, we’ll outline a few trademark monitoring strategies that will help you stay on top of any potential trademark infringers.
Do-It-Yourself Trademark Monitoring Strategies
1. Google Search
When it comes to monitoring for trademark infringement, Google can be your best friend. To find potential infringers using Google, simply search for your trademark. If it’s a word, name, or slogan, you can simply type it into the Google search bar. If it’s an image or icon, you can upload your image file into Google’s image search function (look for the camera icon).
Manual Google searches can take a lot of time. As a business owner, you probably don’t want to spend your day constantly searching Google to protect your business name and logo when you could be out finding ways to increase your profits instead.
2. Google Alerts
This is where Google Alerts really comes in handy. This feature allows you to set up automated searches and have alerts sent to your email address whenever new pages containing the content you’re looking for are indexed (catalogued by Google’s search engine “spiders”).
3. Google Ads and Keyword Planner (Formerly Google Adwords)
Both of these services by Google allow users to search for terminology (the first in relation to online advertisements, the second in relation to web traffic). Start by searching AdWords to find out if anybody is using your trademark as a way to target, reach, and connect to more people online. This could be a first sign that someone may be infringing on your trademark.
Next, use the Google Ads Keyword Planner. By plugging your trademark into this search tool, you can see how many people are searching for your trademark and what results they are finding.
While neither of these tools will point you directly to the people infringing on your trademarks, they may make you aware of potential infringements. The next step would be to dig deeper and root out those using your marks for their profit.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has come a long way since its inception. Indeed, it’s one of the few government offices in the United States that has jumped fully on the digital bandwagon. Its automated search system, the Trademark Electronic Search System (nicknamed “TESS”), can help you pinpoint trademark infringement before it even starts.
The online TESS system allows you to search for trademarks using a number of different variables. You can enter simple terms, browse trademarks via category or class, and even input search terms for image results. This allows you to spot any trademark applications for marks similar to the one you’re trying to protect.
If you’d prefer a more hands-off role in the monitoring of your marks, or would just like an expert to do it for you, we can help. We do more than just help people with the trademark application and registration process. Our active Trademark Protection package includes:
- Regular automated searches for your marks (and similar ones as well)
- Monitoring of renewal and maintenance dates (so you don’t lose the rights in your mark to your competition)
- Regular reports sent right to your inbox.
It couldn’t be easier to monitor your trademark for potential infringement than having an attorney on your side.
Check out our Trademark Protection services
Hire an Attorney When You Spot Infringement
One of the first conversations you should have after spotting a potential trademark infringement issue is with a trademark attorney. Solving the issue may be as simple as sending out a cease-and-desist letter to the parties involved, but it may be as complicated as filing infringement lawsuits in court and laying out your case before a judge. It’s a good idea to seek out advice from a practicing legal expert when it comes to such sticky matters.