The latest report by legal analytics firm, Lex Machina, has revealed that fashion brands rank high on a list of companies who are consistently monitoring unauthorised uses of their names and logos.
The fashion press say that Lex Machina’s annual trademark litigation year in review report, which analysed the U.S. district court filings from January 2009 through March 2016, put fashion houses in the spotlight in terms of their robust trademark policing efforts.
Leading the fashion pack was Coach, with 730 filed cases, Chanel had 330 cases and the parent company of Ugg Boots, Deckers Brands, also high on the list with 164 cases filed. The sheer number of trademark litigation filings highlights how seriously many businesses take brand protection, fighting their corner and doing everything possible to protect their precious trademarks and brand assets.
This is perhaps unsurprising given that today’s global, online marketplace is creating more opportunities for brand owners to inadvertently infringe on others’ marks – often with costly consequences. New global markets and marketing channels and the impact of the Internet on all commerce have created tremendous challenges for trademark owners and IP professionals. Particularly, when it comes to clearing and launching new brands – the process has never been more important—or more complex.
Not clearing a new brand effectively is a false economy, for the organisation involved the financial fall out can be significant. If we stick with the fashion world as an example, we only have to look at the high profile case involving fashion retailer, ASOS and Swiss cycling wear company, ASSOS, which underlined the importance of effective clearance searches in all markets and the costly consequences of not clearing a brand outside of the home market.
During the case, that ultimately went to the Court of Appeal, ASOS had objected to the ASSOS brand, but ASSOS emerged victorious and the judge in the case commented that a clearance search could have prevented the litigation ever taking place.
Another area that has brought significant implications for trademark clearance and protection is globalisation. The ASOS case demonstrated that it is simply no longer enough to clear a brand in the home market – globalisation has created a greater risk for brand owners to infringe on others’ marks and has increased the need for the clearance process to include all possible markets of expansion.
Organisations can now enter a new market almost instantly, potentially exposing the brand to prior rights in another country. The pressure is on brands to clear their trademarks quickly and more broadly, so the business can ensure they can secure local rights to that mark.
There are emerging technological solutions in this space designed to simplify the clearance process. Whether the need is for a full availability search for a major brand, or for secondary and seasonal brands and slogans, technology can be used to bring the required level of flexibility, speed and affordability to the clearance process.
Fortunately, a new trend for self-service trademark clearance is being reflected in some of the latest technological solutions on the market. There are cloud-based solutions incorporating a host of features to allow professionals to carry out quick and cost-effective clearance searches and mitigate risk for brands.
The world of trademarks is being influenced by several critical external factors, and while litigation filings may have become the height of fashion for established brands, clearing new brands effectively is one trend that should be at the forefront of every organisation’s protection strategy.