What is Trademark Monitoring and Why You Need It
A registered trademark will lose rights if the owner does not “police” the use of the mark. That means the owner must take steps to become away of what similar marks are in use, and if they are close enough to the owner’s mark, the owner must prevent the continued use of the mark.
The best way to do this is to monitor the use of other marks, both in the USPTO Trademark Register or in common law (Google or Amazon are good search engines). Many professional trademark monitoring services are available (in fact we offer an inexpensive, comprehensive service as well). These services periodically provide a report on upcoming marks that may be similar, in similar markets.
The USPTO register should be reviewed for applications that are similar, and registered trademarks that are expending their field of goods and service. Some monitoring services also consider foreign trademarks in the search, or large companies’ proposed names, which are usually indicated by surreptitious filings in developing countries.
Marks that are shown through the trademark monitoring report are then categorized to see which are threats or are too close to the registered mark. If in doubt, you should consult an attorney. Once an offending has been identified, the use should be curtailed with a cease and desist letter to the owner. The responses from the cease and desist letters should be considered for compliance, and the use of the offending mark should be reviewed as well periodically to make sure it has stopped. If you do not take timely steps to prevent the use of an offending trademark, you may have problems asserting rights against the offending mark later on through a legal construct known as laches.
If the trademark is an application before the USPTO, then the application’s progress should be monitored so that an opposition may be filed during the first month of publication (the opposition period). This will enable the trademark owner to argue a case as to why the offending mark should not proceed to registration.
Maybe you have expanded your product line. If your trademark registration is out of date as to the goods and services it is associated with, then it may not appear in the searches the Examiners make while examining new application, and new applications may accordingly not be rejected (even though your trademark is in use with the same goods and services, because your registration does not reflect the new goods and services)