As much as we would like to live in a world with no trademark infringement, unfortunately it is a reality for many businesses. And while you may not be able to totally prevent trademark infringement, you can definitely make sure that if infringement does occur, you’re well-protected and well-prepared to deal with it.
One of the best ways to protect yourself is to make sure that your registrations are up to date. Inaccuracies in the record at IP offices can have grave implications for your ability to enforce your trademarks should you encounter trademark infringement.
Imagine you identify an infringing product in the market. You’ll send a cease-and-desist letter, or possibly start formal legal proceedings. If the case is clear cut, you have a good chance of winning, but if the other party prepares to fight, you need to be certain that you are protected. Having incorrect ownership information in the official record can be fatal in a litigation, since you may find it difficult to demonstrate that you actually had the right to the trademark in question at the time the infringement took place.
But the risks of not having up to date information in the record are not limited to severe situations such as litigation. If you have license arrangements for your trademarks with other companies, those licenses could also be compromised by incorrect information. This could affect your ability to recoup royalties and ultimately reduce the value of your trademark to the business.
Similarly, pending trademark applications and renewals could be affected by incorrect information. In some jurisdictions, having inconsistent ownership information may cause an examiner to raise an objection or even reject an application. In any event, correcting these inconsistencies retrospectively is likely to cost more and cause greater delays than doing things correctly from the beginning, while exposing you to unnecessary risk in the meantime.
Finally, having incorrect information in the record can affect your ability to manage customs recordals, and expose you to counterfeiting risk unnecessarily.
What are the best methods of making sure your records are up to date?
Especially if you’ve recently had major changes to your business, through a merger or acquisition for example, you should consider undertaking a full recordals audit. Brandstock can work with you to identify ownership information for your current IP assets, highlight weak spots and take action to remedy any problems before they become major business risks. Getting this right will guard against trademark infringement.
Everyone is concerned about cost and resources of undertaking a comprehensive recordals project. That makes sense. Especially if you’ve previously undertaken a similar project in-house, you’ll be familiar with the time it can take and the sheer number of different things to consider. As a result, this vital work can sometimes seem too daunting or time consuming to start. Partnering with an external consultant such as Brandstock can ensure you save time, and money too, since taking on a whole project in one go instead of proceeding piecemeal will normally work out less expensive and ensure that you know you are protecting your trademarks in the best possible way.
Brandstock can work with you to help set priorities, whether for particular marks or in particular jurisdictions where you might have issues. Drawing on years of experience managing projects for a range of businesses in different industries, Brandstock is able to quickly identify what are likely to be the key pressure points and prioritise accordingly. This will help you protect against the threat of trademark infringement.
Once you’ve decided on a strategy and begun to implement it, one of the questions facing your company is how to future-proof your portfolio against the risk of trademark infringement resulting from problems with incorrect assignments. This ultimately will have a lot to do with how you document the various changes that you’ve made to your IP portfolio. If you don’t maintain a clear, useable docketing system then it increases the risk of problems arising in the future, since it’s important to ensure that your internal records tally with those of the IP offices with which you deal. Brandstock can help you to reliably transfer and update records as required, making sure you don’t miss out on crucial information when you need it.
Preventing trademark infringement is no easy task. But with the right support, and the right approach, you can limit the risk of being caught out by nasty surprises.