Whether you own a small startup or have an established business, your company’s trademark materials are essential for growing and maintaining a solid customer base. Unfortunately, in the digital era, protecting against trademark infringement has become uniquely challenging.
It may not be realistic to try to stop every instance of unauthorized trademark use. However, monitoring the marketplace for potentially serious acts of infringement is crucial. Failing to do so may weaken your legal rights to important intellectual property or even damage your company’s reputation in the industry.
What are common examples of online trademark infringement?
From social media apps to company landing pages, examples of unauthorized trademark use online can occur in many forms. Common examples include:
- “Cybersquatting” on a domain name by using an identical or similar trademark word or phrase
- Incorporating a known trademark in a social media hashtag or handle
- Impersonating another business’ website, personnel or social media pages
- Using an identical or easily confused mark or slogan in promotional content
- Selling products that either counterfeit or infringe on another company’s trademark materials
How can infringement damage IP rights?
While you may object to unauthorized use of a trademark, you may only be able to claim legal infringement if the usage is likely to confuse customers as to the source of affiliation of the content. However, if you do not actively work to protect trademarked materials, their general use by third parties may dilute your claim to exclusive intellectual rights.
While unregistered trademarks have some protection under U.S. common law, registering material that is especially valuable is essential. That is particularly true for intellectual property that may be likely to attract widespread publicity and imitation.