Trademark owners must proactively safeguard their trademarks from infringement and various forms of misuse that could damage their goodwill and business reputation. These forms of misuse encompass blurring, tarnishment, unfair competition, passing off, false advertising, and cybersquatting.
Trademark owners need not discover every potential conflict or instantly pursue legal action against all infringers. However, failure to fully enforce their trademarks weakens the marks, diminishes their distinctiveness over time, and endangers available remedies. To prevent this, owners must actively set up proactive monitoring of USPTO registration applications, the Internet, and other uses.
Companies with renowned TM and ample budgets should actively enlist professional watch services for search and monitoring. Those with tighter budgets can actively ask employees, contractors, customers, licensees, and counterparties to be vigilant and report infringements. In either scenario, trademark owners must actively investigate and assess key factors when potential infringements are detected, including third-party ownership, use priority, type, and likelihood of confusion.
Owners should actively consider and pursue their desired outcome, such as seeking monetary damages, pursuing injunctive relief, or negotiating agreements like trademark licenses, coexistence, or settlements. Federal lawsuits and proceedings with the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeals Board can be resource-intensive. Therefore, trademark owners should establish legal priorities upfront based on factors like mark similarity, product likeness, infringement quantity, and financial considerations.
While pursuing low-level infringers may not always be cost-effective, TM owners must actively continue to periodically monitor such infringers. They should also remain actively ready to vigorously enforce their rights if the infringement escalates, causing increased or more imminent potential harm to the owner. This way, the owner can actively prevent the weakening of its mark and the loss of remedies for the infringement.
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