Trademark Ecosystem Report

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By Bobby Desmond, Esq.

Recently, CompuMark commissioned a trademark research report with data collected by the independent survey firm, Vitreous World, from 351 trademark professionals in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and France. The report revealed interesting trends and insights into the world of trademarks.

More Active Marks and Applications

Worldwide, there are nearly 83 million active trademarks, and the number of trademark applications has been increasing every year for nearly a decade. In 2018, there was a 15.5% increase in the number of applications, totaling nearly 11 million marks covering 14.3 million classes. About two-thirds of these applications came from China.

Enhanced Clearing Efforts

One of the top problems faced by respondents in clearing their own marks last year was lack of access to technology. Other reported challenges included too much data, too little time, and too little resources. Interestingly, overall investment in the brand over took budget as the number one influence on decisions to clear a mark last year. These factors have led many respondents to file applications without thoroughly searching for potentially conflicting marks beforehand.

Fortunately, the report shows that more trademark professionals are more frequently clearing marks before filing applications. About one in three respondents reported clearing more than three quarters of the marks they filed. An improvement from last year when only one in five professionals reported doing so. Similarly, 9% of respondents reported clearing less than a quarter of their marks. Down from 13% in 2018.

Statistics on Watching Remain Static

The numbers in this year's report relating to the amount of marks being watched and the factors in making that decision remain relatively unchanged. The percentage of respondents reporting overall investment in the brand, budget, or tier of brand as the number one factor in prioritizing which trademarks to watch has not changed in the last year. All three are chosen by 21-23% of respondents as the number one consideration in 2018 and 2019. Likewise, the number of marks being watched has remained about the same with about one in three respondents watching 26-50% of their marks.

Increased Infringement and Costs

85% of respondents reported experiencing infringement in 2019, up from 74% in 2017. The number of cases reported by respondents has also increased. About four in ten respondents report 1-10 instances of infringement, and three in ten experienced 11-30 instances of infringement. Nearly half of respondents reported spending up to $50,000 on litigating infringement claims.

The reason for the increase in reported infringement is hard to pinpoint. One reason may be increased filings leading to more competition, but another possibility is that more professionals are simply becoming aware of infringing activities. Half of respondents said technology has made a big improvement in trademark research and protection. For example, artificial intelligence speeds up the trademark process, automates tasks, and provides predictive analytics.

Fortunately, it's not all bad news. Some respondents reported increasing trademark protection by increasing collaborative efforts to train non-legal departments like the marketing team to understand and comply with trademark law when choosing a brand name. Other reported ways to increase trademark protection include increasing resources, budgets, and time dedicated to the task.

Trademark Report Takeaways

To reduce long-term costs, it is best practice to incorporate trademark professionals into the selection of a brand name at the beginning of the process. Proper clearance of marks before application can help avoid expensive litigation and brand name changes down the road. Monitoring marks for infringements after registration also remains critical to brand protection, as doing so helps identify and prevent consumer confusion, loss of customer trust and loyalty, decreased revenue, and reputational damage. Educating clients and non-legal corporate departments on the value of these efforts is of paramount importance as the number of applications and the costs and frequency of infringement increase.

Bobby Desmond is an Associate Attorney at Walters Law Group, where he focuses his practice on First Amendment, Internet law, and intellectual property issues. More information about his qualifications and experience can be found here: https://www.firstamendment.com/our-team/ Nothing herein is intended as legal advice.

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This page contains a single entry by Julie Houth published on April 7, 2020 12:00 AM.

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