Despite the prevalence of courtroom battles attracting attention in recent months, litigation should be considered a recourse of last resort in intellectual property management. This may be particularly true regarding trademarks, as an overzealous defense of one's branded assets could cost companies their customer loyalty in addition to the associated legal fees.
Considering all the preparation leading up to trademark registration, it is understandable that brands would want to defend the sanctity of their newly minted intellectual asset. According to IP Watchdog, however, there are several scenarios in which the cost of pursuing terminal litigation may far exceed the actual and perceived value of the mark. Although less intensive than patent prosecution, on average, it is not unusual for brands to amass a six-digit subtotal before effectively negating a competitor's use.
There are also some heavily nuanced contextual factors to analyze, as trademarks are often intimately tied to core marketing strategies. This is particularly important in the age of user-generated content, according to CircleID, as brand advocates increasingly flock to online portals to discuss goods and services via methods which may fall in a legal gray area. According to the news source, one chocolatier recently had to defuse a potential public relations nightmare after its cease-and-desist letter sent to a well-meaning recipe blogger began circulating the web.
While the company stopped well short of protracted litigation, the perceived attack on a benevolent brand advocate helped the company make headlines for all the wrong reasons. As a result, businesses must tread lightly with trademark enforcement and diligently decide whether potential violations pose a sufficient threat that merits the cost and attention generated by legal action.