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Trademark Tip: 5 Free Ways to Monitor Your Trademark

To maintain and increase protection of a trademark, the owner must guard against unauthorized use or infringement. Generally, the sooner such a situation is discovered the easier it is to resolve, and the less impact it will impose upon the trademark owner. Conversely, the more money an infringer or cybersquatter has invested into his or her business, name, or website, the more likely her or she is to put up a fight against a claim of infringement. Doing nothing about a known infringement situation for a long period of time can lead to laches, a legal theory that could prevent you from later enforcing any rights you may have once had. On the other hand, evidence that you have vigorously pursued infringements can be used as evidence in future trademark disputes to demonstrate the strength of your trademark.

As a result, consistent monitoring of a business' trademarks has great value because quickly finding and addressing infringements costs less and generally strengthens your mark.

Here are 5 free resources for monitoring your brands:

  • Google Alerts: Google will grab items from all over the web - including news, blogs, and websites - and will then email you results matching your trademark.  You can be alerted daily, weekly, or "as it happens." This is a wonderful resource.  If you have a name with multiple words, consider using quotes. Also consider creating several alerts with variations of your trademark(s) in spelling and spacing (and singular vs. plural).
  • Scour the web:Search a variety of websites for variations of your trademarks.  Set a "reminder" in your task or calendar program to do this monthly. A great website for searching multiple search engines is Window1.
  • Industry search:Make a bookmark list of several main online resources in your industry. News sites, publications, blogs, etc. - any site with comprehensive and popular coverage of the relevant industry.  Search on those main sites for your trademarks quarterly.
  • USPTO:The USPTO records of registered and pending trademarks can be searched for free. Check quarterly for any new applications that might be infringements of your trademarks. Consider variations in spelling, sound and spacing in your searching to capture names which may not be identical but very similar.
  • Username search:Check for usernames containing your trademarks that are registered and used on the major social media and other websites. A free search of 400 social media websites is available from KnowEm.

Tip: Once you learn of a possible infringement, unauthorized use, or cybersquatting, consult an attorney for options to address the matter.

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