Time, money and brand equity are just a few of the important resources that companies dedicate to the domain of trademark management. But while the natural inclination is to defend these hard-earned intellectual property rights at all costs, overzealous enforcement could do more harm than good.
In a recent column for Inc., Matthew Swyers chronicled an ongoing trademark dispute at the University of Alabama. While some local artists have made a habit of recapturing memorable moments from the school's iconic football program, the university has claimed that its uniform colors are trademarked and has demanded payment. In a similar vein, the University of Florida previously sent a series of cease and desist requests to state high schools that had copied a likeness of its trademarked gator head logo to their athletic fields and gymnasium floors.
Despite the levity of these examples, Swyers suggested that they were important illustrations of the intangible aspects companies must consider in trademark management. While the potential cost and benefits of enforcement are obvious considerations, unexpected consequences like potentially alienating clients or disrupting branding campaigns often go overlooked.
Such is the case this week, according to Ars Technica, as social media giant Facebook aims to expand its trademarking claims over the letter "f" and the word "book." While some companies have attempted to profit from Facebook's notoriety by including its suffix in their own product titles and website domains, pockets of public opinion are viewing the maneuver as a greedy and somewhat unnecessary strategy.