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Trademark bullying can cost companies when it goes too far

by | Apr 15, 2021 | Trademark Law

Defending trademarks can be an important part of business, but it’s also important to know how far to go. Going past sensible boundaries could mean unnecessary costs and long-lasting reputational damage.

Duke University has been branded a “trademark bully” by two of its own researchers who conducted a study on trademark oppositions. The professors insist that the school is going beyond reasonable action with many of its claims.

Forcing your entity to grasp at straws for a complete stranglehold on associated branding could lead to losing big in the long run. That’s why it can be essential to have representation that can help you determine where to draw the line.

Pushing the boundaries

The United States Patent and Trademark Office defines bullying as a trademark owner who applies undue pressure on other businesses.

Some of the claims Duke made in recent years could fall in this definition. They’ve made various objections to groups using “Duke,” “Blue,” “Devil,” and even the letter “D,” even though the university doesn’t hold all-encompassing trademark rights to any of these terms. That didn’t stop them from filing more complaints than the other 28 major universities covered in the study combined.

Stretching protections thin

While you should expect to spend money defending your claims and enforcing your trademarks, the payout should make good business sense over time. The researchers said the constant opposition to weak trademark claims may have cost the school hundreds of thousands of dollars and made the university look worse in the public’s eyes.

Experienced representation could be essential in understanding where the line between protection and waste rests. Avoiding unnecessary litigation and harming your reputation could be avoided with the right help.