Article from the March/April Issue of Marketing Hour, Brand Police: Why your brand should be your first line of defense By: Charlie Lunan
After the research and development phase of your brand, it is time to monitor your brand and if necessary, enforce legal action.
A comprehensive brand protection strategy can and should be driven by marketers in close coordination with trademark attorneys. In the first phase, marketers work hand-in-hand with legal counsel to select marks that cannot only be registered, but also defended. In the second phase, they work together to monitor for trademark infringements and other threats, and decide how to respond. After consulting with several sources, we compiled the following checklist.
Phase 2: Monitor and Enforce
- Set up alerts- Set up email alerts on your favorite search engine that will notify you every time your trademark appears on the internet. This can act as an early warning signal of trademark infringement.
- Work with distributors- If you sell through retailers and wholesalers, encourage them to report suspicious activity.
- Appoint a brand cop- Consider assigning someone in marketing to work part-time, monitoring searches and responding to dealer complaints.
- Use the ® and TM symbols- Use these with all registered trademarks, including logos, in all corporate communications, including press releases, logos, signage, advertising and labeling. This will prevent unscrupulous competitors from inadvertently infringing your trademarks, and prove you were actively using and protecting them if you feel compelled to take your claims to court.
- Subscribe to a digital brand protection service- Larger companies may want to consider subscribing to a service such as BrandProtect, ChannellQ or Corporation Service C. to set up a custom monitoring and reporting service. Be sure to shop around as these services can cost thousand of dollars per month.
- Conduct regular audits- This is a good practice for grooming a company for an acquisition of takeover. Look at every mark you’re using, and consider whether you want to register it. Audits also should check to make sure the company, rather than the founder or someone in marketing who registered an asset in their own name, owns all trademarks.
Taking the right steps to protect your brand will help strengthen your brand in the eyes of your clients. To read more about branding and marketing, sign up for TGI’s newsletters, Marketing Minute and Marketing Hour. Both of our newsletters highlight trends, offer tips and provide insight into today’s marketing strategies.