It’s that time of year: you set your clocks ahead, change the batteries in the smoke detectors, and pay your taxes. Now it’s time for an audit. No, don’t call your accountant. We’re talking trademarks.
Many companies maintain sizeable trademark portfolios, but lack the time or tools to evaluate their trademark protection strategy as their business evolves. The result is portfolios that reflect ad hoc decisions regarding registration at a particular point in time, not a comprehensive brand protection strategy. A process for identifying, processing, monitoring, and updating trademark registrations effectively is key to protecting these valuable business assets. That’s where a trademark audit comes in.
A Good Audit Isn’t Just Accounting
A trademark audit is not just about cataloging your marks. A good trademark audit focuses on review of your trademark portfolio as compared to your current products, services, and marketing practices. It enables alignment of your trademark portfolio with the current, overall business strategy, competitive intelligence, and actual market for products or services. It includes an analysis of marketing materials, business plans, and sales data related to mark-protected products and services. A trademark audit includes:
- Review of all product lines or services
- Review of all marketing and promotional material, including websites and social media
- An inventory of all marks, slogans, logos, and non-traditional trademarks such as packaging and design, along with an identification of the registration status of each mark
- A review of third party activities that might infringe
Audits Lead to Informed Decisions
Audits reveal changes that should be made to your trademark portfolio to support business goals and align the current and expected future business activities with your trademark protection strategy. Your audit may lead to the discovery of:
- Trademarks that have not been registered but should be
- Trademarks that have registrations covering fewer than all of the products or services for which they are now used
- Registrations that have ownership recordation issues or that require incontestability declarations
- Trademarks that no longer hold commercial value
- New licensing opportunities for existing marks
With this information, your company can make informed decisions about trademark protection. Whether that is letting certain registrations go, or registering marks in additional jurisdictions, or filing new applications to cover expanded use of certain marks, those decisions are made as part of a comprehensive trademark protection plan. Ultimately, the goal of an audit is to provide your company with actionable information for “right-sizing” your trademark portfolio and to identify additional steps that might be taken to manage and grow the trademark portfolio more effectively.
So, now that your taxes are filed, are you ready for your trademark audit? Contact us to find out more.
Photo credit: GotCredit