A client asked me an interesting question the other day; how has the poor economy affected trademark and copyright filings in the last few years?
First, trademark filings go up. The number of trademark filings has been on the rise in recent years, indicating that companies are taking a proactive approach to brand protection in an effort to solidify their brand name and better compete in an increasingly competitive market.
Second, the amount of trademark counterfeiting and infringement go up. In a survey performed in 1998 (encompassing worldwide trade in athletic clothing and footwear and the effect on that industry from trademark infringement and counterfeiting) it discovered that companies participating in the survey lost an average of 22% of their total sales, or $2.0 billion in 1995 as a result of trademark infringement and counterfeiting.
This survey found that companies who were the victims of trademark infringement and counterfeiting lost revenue from both a loss in per-capita sales and a loss in market share. Consequently, we ask the question: how do we better protect companies in economically uncertain times? The two statistical trends above appear together for a reason. The only way to access the federal court system and obtain a court order barring an infringing party from using your trademark is by registering it. This also gives you the ability to obtain court awarded damages in the amount of triple the profits of the infringing party, plus costs and attorney fees.
It is often the ability to enforce this level of penalties that prevents an infringement case from turning into something that will take 2 to 3 years and $250,000 to $300,000 in attorney fees, not to mention a loss in market share and confidence in your mark.
In the end, a poor economy creates a greater desire for others to counterfeit or infringe on your trademark and attempt to profit from your goodwill and brand development and at the same time the corrective and protective measure is also created, i.e., an increase in trademark registrations. In a competitive market your name is your most important asset.