Establishing a trademark is often an important part of building a brand. If you want your customers to seek out your company for goods or services, they need to be able to recognize your products in the store, your business from the street or your service vehicles due to their display of your trademark.
An easily recognizable trademark can help set your company apart from the competition. Trademarks can be either an image or the words that comprise the name of your company, and many businesses choose to officially protect their brand by filing for trademark protections.
Registering a trademark makes it easier for you to enforce your rights if someone else tries to profit off of all your hard work by using your trademark on their products, vehicles or facilities. However, even if you haven’t registered at the time of the misappropriation of your company’s logo or images, you may still have the right to take action.
Trademark knockoffs can damage your brand reputation
Some people will tell you that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and that the fact that other companies try to use your trademark for their own benefit shows that you have made something worth copying. While that may be true, you don’t have any control over how that company handles itself, and potential customers or clients that you could have made a profit from will spend money with that other business instead.
In the event that what they offer doesn’t meet the standard your brand has established, the overall impact could be damaging. From negative online reviews to bad word of mouth, there are many ways in which another company’s use of your trademark could damage your business prospects.
You can take steps to limit that damage, such as offering warnings on your social media pages and providing guidance for customers or clients who want to know the difference between your company and the company infringing on your trademark, but the best solution is to stop them from using your trademark and confusing people.
How to enforce your trademark
When you discover that another company has illegally used your trademark, you need to take steps to enforce your intellectual property rights. Typically, the first step involves sending a cease-and-desist notice to the other party, although not before documenting what they have done so far.
Ideally, that letter will be enough to stop them from continuing to use your trademark for their own personal benefit. If they do not or if they have enough to have had a negative impact on your company, you may need to file a lawsuit against them for the violation of your intellectual property rights.
If you can successfully show the courts that the other business infringed on your intellectual property by using your trademark, the court can order them to stop doing so and potentially award you damages and your legal fees in the process.