From an ever-expanding digital marketplace to the fast-paced world of social media, today’s business owners face unique challenges when it comes to preventing trademark infringement.
While companies may not be able to prevent every unauthorized use of trademarked property, staying alert for potential acts of infringement online remains essential. Failing to respond swiftly and appropriately may result in a weakened legal claim to the trademarked material as well as damage to a business’s industry prominence.
What are some examples of online trademark infringement?
Some common examples of online trademark infringement may include:
- Using a trademark in a social media hashtag or handle
- Incorporating an identical or confusingly similar mark in promotional materials
- Impersonating another company’s social media pages, website or personnel
- “Squatting” on a domain name that includes similar or identical trademark names
- Selling counterfeit or infringing products on either a direct or counterfeit site
How could trademark infringement affect IP rights?
In most cases, a company must be able to prove that the unauthorized use of a trademark is likely to create confusion among customers to claim infringement. If a business does not take active steps to protect trademarked material early on, prevalent third-party usage may dilute the company’s claim to intellectual property rights later.
How can companies protect against damage from infringement?
The U.S. does offer some common law protections for trademarks. However, registering trademarked material with the United States Patent and Trademark Office creates a public record of intellectual property rights and provides legal proof of ownership that could be vital if a usage dispute arises.