You've spent years building up the reputation of your business. With a focus on unparalleled service, top-notch products and brand development, you've managed to carve a niche for yourself and your staff. You've also taken steps to protect your intellectual property, such as registering your trademark and asserting copyright over content you publish on your website or social media pages.
Then, one day, you notice a bleak review of your company. At first, you write it off as a jealous competitor or hater, especially because the person leaving the review has had no official interaction with your company. But then you see another review or realize, with a quick web search, that someone else is using your brand name or trademark to market an inferior product or service. You need to take action quickly to protect your brand.
Ask the offending party to cease and desist
Sometimes, all it takes is a casual contact via email or phone to the offending company or individual. Once they realize you are aware of what's happening, they may stop using your trademarked logo, name or slogan in an attempt to drum up new business.
In some cases, however, these unethical business people will simply ignore requests to stop using your name, brand or company information for their own benefit. When that happens, a formal cease and desist letter, drafted by an attorney, is important. Proper service of this letter will be the first step in enforcing your trademarked and intellectual property rights.
Document everything and engage in rapid damage control
If someone else is ripping consumers off or doing a mediocre job while fraudulently using your business name, brand or logo, you need to be proactive about it. Reach out to anyone who has left reviews or comments about a bad experience online. If they will speak with you, the details of their encounter with the other company should be documented to support your case in the future.
While you didn't cause the issue, offering discounts to correct the issue for these defrauded customers can only help your brand and grow your customer base. Once you've determined the extent of the trademark infringement or fraud, you'll have a better idea how to proceed from a legal standpoint.
Take a firm stance against trademark violations
After contacting those taken advantage of, you should also address your broader customer base. Your social media followers and newsletter subscribers should all know that there is another company attempting to piggyback off of your company's success and leaving a trail of unsatisfied customers in its wake.
Seek legal enforcement and compensation for the infringement
Once you know the extent of the trademark infringement and brand fraud, you can make an informed decision about how to seek enforcement of your intellectual property rights. In some cases, a lawsuit can help your company recover any profits the other business made improperly using your name, brand or logo.