the best way for your business to begin to establish brand or name rights is through federal trademark registration followed by proper use of the registered trademark. but, even once a trademark is registered, others can weaken that registration or block you from expanding into other product lines when they use or register confusingly similar names. worse, the longer confusingly similar marks go unchecked, the more expensive and less likely it becomes to successfully attack them. so, how can your business best maintain the protective breadth of your trademark rights? one important strategy is adopting and following up on an effective trademark monitoring system.
trademark monitoring can operate on many levels. for example, it can be as simple as:
- looking for your marks in the same or similar business channels;
- conducting periodic keyword searches through google; or
- searching in the uspto’s trademark electronic search system (tess).
however, monitoring mechanisms that identify potential problems earlier can provide a significant advantage. if confusingly similar marks can be identified and challenged in their early stages of adoption, third parties are much more likely to abandon them because they have not heavily invested resources into marketing or inventory. significantly, federal trademark application is often a marker of early trademark adoption. a skilled trademark attorney can help you search for, identify, address, and attack others’ confusingly similar trademark applications during what’s known as the public opposition period—a step in the trademark application examination process that opens the application up to challenge by those that would be adversely affected if the mark were to proceed to registration.
by implementing and following up on an effective trademark monitoring protocol, you can optimize the value of your trademark by ensuring that others are not encroaching on your rights and plans for future expansion.