Brand protection is part of a company’s success in maintaining, extending, and expanding its brand reputation in a rapidly changing media environment, including the reliance on social media and online dissemination of advertising campaigns. The growing use of social and digital media increases the speed and extent that information or misinformation and opinions can be shared. Negative posts or comments about a company, its brands, products or services on social or digital media can irreparably damage a company’s brand reputation or brand image, which makes having a sound brand protection strategy critical to a company’s success.
But try to enforce your rights on platforms such as FaceBook, Twitter, Etsy, eBay, Amazon, etc. and the first question you will encounter is “What is your trademark registration number?” If you don’t have a registration number, there is no way to complete the form and your complaint will never be submitted. At that point, the only other way to get some remedial action from these platforms is to present a Court Order.
There are a lot of benefits to obtaining a federal trademark or service mark registration, but online enforcement is key and the starting point to obtaining a federal registration is conducting a trademark search. At a minimum, a trademark search must include the United States Patent and Trademark Office database because a federal registration entitles the owner to nationwide priority even if it is not offer its goods and services nationwide. Assuming the United States Patent and Trademark Office search clears, any additional searching depends on the trademark owners intentions for the goods for services.
But it is a good idea for the search to include a review of the popular social media platforms. Not only is it good to see if there are other goods or services being offered under a similar mark, but it also allows the owner to see what reaction – positive or negative – is being attributed to the proposed mark.