McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP partner James McCarthy authored an article entitled, “Build Your Brand Without Bullying” that appears in the March 5, 2014 online edition of Westlaw Journal Intellectual Property. It is time for a new look at trademark bullying. In recent months, trademark bullying has captured the attention of the trademark bar and the national media. The Wall Street Journal has written about it, the International Trademark Association has sponsored programs and articles to address it, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office has even reported to Congress about it. This increased attention is not because the actions of brand owners have changed – cease and desist letters have been around for decades. Instead, it is the actions of “accused infringers” that have taken center stage as they have taken their cases to the court of public opinion. In many cases, brand holders who thought they were enhancing their brands by enforcing them, have found that unwanted attention to their enforcement efforts can actually damage the public’s perception of their brand. As a result, trademark owners need to develop a new approach to brand building and trademark enforcement.
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Note: this article originally appeared in the MBHB Winter 2014 edition of snippets publication.