Law firm advises protection for trademarks
Dublin law firm LK Shields has warned that Irish businesses building up their brands need to do more to protect their trademarks than just setting up a domain name and social network account.
Partner Deirdre Kilroy said registering a trademark early on is the best line of defence in a society that relies so heavily on online information and online interaction with brands. Businesses face fake websites passing themselves off as the real thing, fake Twitter and Facebook accounts and the sale of counterfeit goods on websites such as eBay.
These threats can directly affect a brand image if they're not policed properly, and can drive away existing and potential customers. Ms Kilroy said trademark registration provides a means of more direct enforcement and policing of a brand; it can form the basis of a cease and desist letter and litigation against those trying to exploit it.
She added that while other legal routes exist to protect against the misuse of a word or a logo – such as an action for "passing off" – none is as effective, both in terms of time and cost, as being able to rely on infringement of a registered trademark.
There are many examples of businesses (particularly start-ups) failing to register their brand because of time and cost pressures, like Twitter. Twitter was founded in March 2006 and rapidly gained popularity, but didn't take steps until 2007 to register its trade mark. It wasn't until 2009 that it tried to register its "t" logo and the trademarks "tweet" and "retweet". Predictably, lengthy and avoidable litigation ensued.