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Dealing with trademark squatters

Imagine you are a business owner with a new product you are developing. You know how to make it, what it will cost and where you will sell it. Just about all that you have left to do is to name it and start working on marketing.

Unfortunately, someone has already trademarked the name you were hoping to use. In this situation, you could be dealing with a trademark squatter.

What is trademark squatting?

Parties that register a trademark either here in the U.S. or in another country but do not plan to use it could be squatting on that trademark, hoping to see some financial gain. This gain could be through “owning” a product made by another party but sold in another county or by having the party who wants the trademark pay them for it.

For example, recently, multiple parties filed applications to trademark various names for a Washington NFL team. The filings come in light of reports that the current team – the Washington Redskins – will be changing their name.

The applicants likely anticipate being able to profit from their moves to trademark possible names and prevent anyone else from using the name without their permission.

How can business owners prevent this?

There are multiple options you might consider if someone else has already trademarked a word, symbol or design you were planning to trademark yourself.

One option could include changing the name, symbol or design. Alternatively, you could seek permission from the trademark holder.

If you are still very early in the process of developing your good or service, you can prevent squatting by keeping the details of your private until you can secure the trademark. You would also be wise to file your trademark application as soon as possible. And do not forget to register in every country in which you operate.

Trademarks can be valuable and critical to a company’s offerings. As such, working with an attorney to resolve potential issues as soon as possible can help you protect your product and your ownership rights.


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