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Expanding internationally? Beware of trademark trolls

Taking your business to the global market is a major opportunity. It also requires extensive work in terms of developing systems that work in foreign countries, possibly reshaping messages to attract an international audience and ensuring your business complies with the laws in other countries.

One issue you may not be prepared for is a trademark troll.

What is a trademark troll?

There are different types of trademark trolls, but perhaps the most common trademark troll is an opportunistic trademark registrant. This is a party that registers (or attempts to register) a mark hoping to collect money from a business already using the mark when it comes to the troll’s country. The trolling party typically has no intention of using the trademarked material.

Trademark trolls often focus on registering translated or transliterated brand names, logos, domain names and even colors used by new or well-known businesses.

These trolls then target the business demanding payment to license the mark or instructing them to cease sales in that specific country, citing infringement.

Dealing with trademark trolls

Protecting intellectual property here in the U.S. is complicated enough; seeking protection at the global level can especially tricky, especially when trolls are involved.

Avoiding trademark trolls in the first place is generally best. To do this, business owners should think globally when it comes to protecting intellectual property. Securing trademark rights in the U.S. may seem sufficient, but if you plan (or hope) to expand internationally any time in the future, you will want to consider filing trademark applications in those countries, as well.

It can also be wise to perform a comprehensive search for possible trolls or trademarked materials before you expand to other countries. Doing this puts you in a position to be proactive, rather than reactive.

Even if you cannot avoid clashes with trademark trolls, you still have legal remedies and options to consider. With legal guidance, you can respond to trolls effectively and possibly pursue litigation to secure your intellectual property rights.


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