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The default position of brands has often been to protect as many marks as possible, driving other applicants out and helping establish a well-known and profitable identity. When names can make or break a brand, a significant number of trademarks are created purely for protection. However, these protective practices lead to a systemic problem. When new entrants to a market are faced with trademark clutter, their only choice is to adopt equally aggressive application strategies. This behavior leads to more clutter and further reduces the available pool of marks for the next generation of applicants.
In 2016 social media users reached 2.3 billion. With an audience made up of consumers, competitors and industry influencers, social media is a melting pot of opportunity and risk. Social platforms have quickly become a go-to platform for engaging with customers. If used correctly, companies have the potential to build an online persona that stands out and drives commercial success… When big brands enforce their trademark rights against potentially infringing smaller entities, the David-and-Goliath-type battle can help to alienate the consumer market. Brands such as M&Ms are now using online personas – developed on social media – to gently enforce trademark rights.
The idea of brand value is evolving. Trademark lawyers must be concerned with everything that contributes to the protection of a brand, not just its trademarks. Protecting a brand now includes a number of issues that were simply not relevant to the role twenty years ago, such as: trademarks in domain names; the use of trademarks online; trademarks used in social media handles; and trademarks being mentioned in general online commentary.