Incidents of counterfeiting, copycats and squatting increase year-to-year and we frequently see our client’s competitors take marketing shortcuts by imitating established brands.
Early warnings can help brand owners stop a third party’s bad idea from becoming a full-blown infringement, and contain local issues before they become international.
We offer a number of monitoring services designed to catch and prevent infringements and mitigate the associated costs and reputational risks, including:
- trade mark application monitoring
- brand monitoring in domain name registrations
- monitoring for changes in specific domain names
- online brand monitoring
- monitoring company name registrations
- competitor and counter-party monitoring
Please see below for more information.
Trade Mark Application Monitoring
We can tailor trade mark monitoring services for word marks, composite marks and figurative signs in any number of classes and in most jurisdictions around the world.
This is a critical service for territories (like the UK, the EU and a number of European countries) where trade marks offices will accept new applications despite the existence of similar earlier marks. In these territories, because new applications are not blocked ex-officio, a watch service can be the only line of defence against the registration of a conflicting mark and, in turn, a would-be infringer entering the market under the protection of a registration.
Trade mark monitoring is particularly useful during the 6-month priority window after filing a new trade mark application: we have frequently used trade mark monitoring to identify foreign trade mark applications that copy our client’s brands, enabling our clients to establish earlier rights using convention priority, ultimately resulting in the rejection of the conflicting mark. Using monitoring to catch these applications within the 6-month priority period avoid the need for costly cancellation proceedings and/or litigation.
Brand Monitoring in Domain Name Registrations
Domain name dispute filings have increased year-on-year since 2012. The World Intellectual Property Organization attributes this directly to the ongoing rise of risks in cyberspace, including counterfeiting, phishing, typosquatting, scamming, brandjacking and website imitation.
We are able to monitor for new domain name registrations that copy, contain or feature variations on our client’s brands. The notifications usually catch new domain name registrations within hours of their registration, enabling us to take near-immediate action where they can potentially present serious risks.
We have a dedicated online enforcement team with long-standing anti-cybersquatting experience. We can accurately separate infringements into low and higher-risk categories, allowing our clients to pick the right battles and allocate their budgets effectively. We’ve used domain name monitoring not only to identify infringements and various cyber-threats, but also leaks of confidential information, enabling our clients to prevent and curtail unwanted press and media attention.
We also have experience with Trademark Clearinghouse registrations, which can be useful in both preventing and undoing cybersquatting, as well as securing high-risk or high-value domain names.
Monitoring for Domain Name Changes
We are able to monitor for changes in various categories of information relating to specific domain names, which can be useful in securing early warnings when websites are established, when a domain name might be activated for e-mail, or when certain information relating to its owner has changed.
We offer a number of options for identifying and stopping unauthorised third party use of brands in various settings online, including private websites, online marketplaces and social media. We have successfully shut-down widespread infringement on a number of well-known social media platforms, as well as infringing misinformation campaigns on Twitter.
Company Name Registrations
The registration of a copycat company name can be a sign of a potentially-serious infringement risk and, in some territories, enliven a defence to a trade mark infringement claim in certain circumstances. The rules surrounding cancellation of company name registrations in the UK differ in a number of ways from other similar proceedings (ie oppositions, domain name disputes) and early warning can be key to preparing a successful case.
There is often no other way to be notified promptly of a conflicting company name registration unless regular manual searches are conducted or the offending company starts trading and the infringement lands on the brand owner’s radar through other channels (at which stage the issue can obviously become inherently more costly and complicated).
Competitor and Counter-Party Monitoring
Often there can be a concern of infringement or other legal issues relating to a specific entity or individual, especially when there is a pending dispute.
Similarly, some of our clients like to know when competitors embark on new branding programs or marketing campaigns, or might seek to extend their businesses into new service areas.
We are able to monitor and track trade mark applications, online brand use and certain domain names relating to specific individuals or entities so that our clients are notified early about any strategic trade mark filings, of the launch of potential new brands, or the expansion into potential new service areas.