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August 11, 2020

Trademarks in the time of COVID-19

We are in the middle of a pandemic, the likes of which most of us have never seen before. Many businesses are in trouble. Some have already gone out of business. Others are just hanging on. And yet, for those that can afford to take the long view, this is a time of opportunity. 

Whether business now is great or poor, this is an ideal time to review your business’s trademark portfolio. This is a good opportunity to decide what trademarks are no longer in use or of particular value to the business. At the very least, the trademark portfolio should be carefully scrutinized to see if it is time to let some of your registered marks go abandoned as a way to cut costs.

More profitably, it might be possible to license or sell such marks, thereby extracting revenue from otherwise redundant assets. 

This also might be an opportune time to look at the trademark portfolios of competitors or others in complementary businesses.There may be marks available for acquisition at below usual market rates.

Importantly, this is a good time to consider rebranding, or refreshing your brand. The current social climate has resulted in many corporations shelving famous food brands, changing logos, and retiring long-standing mascots. Should you also consider updates in light of social changes? Now is the time to look at your marks with a fresh approach.

Finally, care needs to be taken to police your brands. Difficult economic times bring with them increased counterfeiting. It is the trademark owner’s responsibility to police the marketplace. In these times, doing so is doubly important; losing sales and goodwill and possibly rights due to the emergence of counterfeits can irreparably harm your business. Cheap fakes not only diminish genuine sales, they can harm a brand’s reputation — and the copycat goods or services might even be dangerous.

In sum, a careful review of your trademark portfolio is always a good idea.Trademark rights and the goodwill in marks can take years to secure.  In the time of COVID-19, few businesses can afford to risk these rights, or miss the opportunity to improve upon them.

We are available.

We recognize the significant economic and personal consequences facing our clients at this time. All our lawyers are available and we’ll do everything we can to help.

Resource posted August 11, 2020, with reports from Steven Raber.