What is Trademark Theft? How Can It Be Prevented and Handled?

How you prevent and handle trademark theft could greatly impact the sustainability of your business. Find out more about these types of situations.

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What is Trademark Theft? How Can It Be Prevented and Handled?

“Apparently a multinational corporation thought it was ok to use my name, brand, and my personality in their marketing initiative that I had no idea about”

Turner Barr is the founder and creator of “Around the World in 80 Jobs,” a blog in which Barr had been documenting his experiences in 80 different jobs in 80 different locations. In 2013, Barr found that a multinational firm, Adecco, had launched a campaign “Around the World in 80 Jobs” without his knowledge or permission. Although Barr started the blog two years before Adecco’s campaign, the firm received the right to use the name as the firm had established its trademark on the idea.

However, after a long social media campaign, public shaming, and dialogue with the company, Adecco recognized Barr’s claim, fulfilling his demands.

Could Barr have avoided this struggle?


Prevention is better than cure as the adage goes.

The struggle Barr had to face could have been avoided if he had trademarked his blog in the first place. Thus, the best option to save your trademark from being stolen is to protect it.

How to Prevent Trademark Theft

Here are the five points you must know to protect your brand identity:

1.    Adopt a unique name – When choosing a name for your brand, avoid generic or descriptive terms such as “Happy, healthy meals” as they could be easily challenged, easily duplicated, and are very common. Instead, you should go for names such as Nestle, KFC or McDonald’s, which are easily defended.

2.    Get your brand registered: If you haven’t marked your territory, you cannot claim it. Thus, once you have finalized your brand name, get it registered. To do so, you can get help from an attorney or use any of the numbers of services available online.

3.    Maintain an active online presence: Registering your trademark is not enough. You need to use it actively to avoid its disuse by someone. This includes keeping all paperwork and correspondence up-to-date. In case of infringement, an active online presence can help you defend your case.

4.    Keep yourself alert: While maintaining an active presence, you must keep an eye on social media, search engines, and local channels for any potential infringements.

5.    Consult legal experts: The role of the legal experts is not limited to registering, managing, and monitoring your brand. While trademark lawyers help you protect your brand identity, intellectual property litigation lawyers help you protect your ideas in fields like academia, medical, and retail. They also assist in developing and shaping the ideas.

How to Handle Trademark Theft

Despite all the precautionary measures, you need to be ready for the potential trademark thefts. Thus, if you find that someone has stolen your trademark, you need to perform the following checks before taking any actions.

1.    Understand the gravity of the impact: Before acting upon any infringement, you need to first evaluate its potential impact on your business.

For example: if the term that has been copied is not central to your business and abandoning it will have no negligible impact on your business, then it’s recommended that you just ignore such an infringement. However, if the stolen term/idea is a significant part of your business, then you must assess how strong your claim on the term is.

2.    Seek professional help: You must consult a legal expert to understand whether you should opt for a legal battle.

For example, it may not be advisable to defend against an infringement that is based on a descriptive word as it’s difficult to establish your claim on a common term.

3.    The possibility of a settlement: Not all trademark thefts are intentional; some may simply be the result of ignorance. Thus before taking any legal action, you must initiate a dialogue with the other party and express your claim on the trademark. Knowing your claim on trademark may make the other party reluctant to get involved in a legal battle.

In short, not every dispute needs a court battle and hence keep it as your last option!

Trademark theft is a serious matter that can harm your business. If you are in need of a trademark attorney, call the offices of Paul & Paul at (215) 568-4900 for a consultation today.


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