After a lot of deliberation, brain-storming and creative word smithing, you finally have a new unique name in your industry. And after a blessing by your own intellectual property legal counsel you have applied for, and received, a registered trademark. So you framed the certificate and mounted it neatly on the wall.
How will you know if someone else accidentally use the same name? How will you know if some grifters intentionally use the same name and logo on cheap knock-off products?
Reality is that trademark protection is a self-policing system. Yes, the trademark examining attorneys will not issue the same mark to someone else in their jurisdiction (usually country). But what about other areas?
What about usage without registration?
There are some basic precautions you can take (See my article: Protecting your new product or service name) but beyond that we are on our own. For major consumer marks it pays to get help at least from a monitor service. This should give you some early warning. Beyond that we are mostly on our own. So let’s pull together and help each other. Major consumer trademark owners usually start by becoming active members of INTA (The International Trademark Association). Unfortunately this is too expensive for the small guys. (I can’t even afford a ticket to their annual conference unless someone has a complimentary one for me.)
But it is a worldwide body that tries to educate the world on proper trademark and brand protection practices and policing. They have contacts with import/export customs agents who can also help identify rip-off products. And they will work with them and your legal and security team to deal with offenders.
So please do your part. Alert someone if you see wrong or invalid usage of your trademarks. And alert other companies if you see their marks being abused so they can take the appropriate actions.
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