What is Trademark Bullying?

Trademark bullying is when a trademark proprietor uses threats and litigation tactics in an attempt to enforce trademark rights beyond a reasonable interpretation of the scope of the rights granted to the owner of the trademark registration.  Trademark bullies therefore issue threats or file infringement actions in an attempt to forcefully dissuade another trademark holder from using or registering their own trademark.  These actions typically begin with a cease and desist letter objecting to a trademark application or how the business is using their trademark in commerce.  If a cease and desist letter is ignored or disregarded a lawsuit typically results.

Trademark bullying would appear to be more prevalent in the USA where lawsuits and litigation is almost as common as eating breakfast. However, it is also emerging as an anti-competitive tactic in the UK and European Union.

Due to the financial resources required trademark bullying is a tactic most often used by large multi-national corporations. They have the deepest pockets and can effectively squeeze small competitors into financial submission irrespective of the legal merits of the matter.

Trademark bullying is a problem because it is essentially aimed at stifling competition under the disguise of ‘trademark enforcement or protection’. In most cases the merits of the case are questionable at best. Their primary intention is to make the threat and/or file the lawsuit in the hope that the defendant will cease using the mark or prosecuting the trademark application simply because they do not have the financial resources to fight back and defend their trademark rights. In this case, small businesses will typically concede and stop using their trademarks, even though the claim might have little merit.

Has your business been subjected to trademark bullying? Is your trademark application or trademark registration under threat as a result of bullyboy tactics? If so get in touch. We will help you. Our flexible fee structure can be adapted to suit the shallowest of pockets.

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