Trademark infringement rising fast, says CompuMark

There has been a 15 per cent increase in trademark infringement reported by brand owners over the last two years, according to a survey by CompuMark.

The new study – which quizzed 351 in-house and external trademark professionals from organisations spanning five countries – finds that 85 per cent of brands experienced trademark infringement in the past year, continuing “a steady upward trend from 81 per cent per cent in 2018 and 74 per cent in 2017.”

Infringement – which can include counterfeiting, copying and piracy as well as other strategies like brand borrowing – is spanning channels, from business names and social media, to web domains and advertising campaigns, says CompuMark.

More than four in 10 (43 per cent) trademark professionals said they believed infringement has increased over the last two years, while 37 per cent indicated they cases of infringement remained the same during the period.

Those who did suffer trademark infringement suffered serious consequences, with the top impact cited as consumer confusion – reported by 45 per cent of respondents – followed by loss of revenue (38 per cent) and damage to brand reputation (37 per cent).

All told, three quarters of trademark infringements also led to litigation, with four out of 10 organisations spending between $50,000 and $249,999 on legal proceedings.

In addition, almost half (46 per cent) of respondents had to rebrand as a result of infringement, an exercise which can be particularly costly.

The number of trademark filings also seems to be rising, although CompuMark says there isn’t necessarily a direct correlation between the two trends. Practically, the awareness and growth in trademarks means more chance for infringement.

The filing landscape is shifting too; 78 per cent of respondents are including industrial design trademarks in their filing strategies, which the report says is a “surprising” finding, while 56 per cent are filing more image marks than in 2018.

“We’re seeing more and more trademarks filed as brands seek to take advantage of commercial opportunities driven by globalisation, the online marketplace and emerging markets entering the IP space,” said Jeff Roy, president of the IP group at CompuMark parent Clarivate Analytics.

“Trademark infringement can have a devastating impact on brands and, as a result, clearing, registering and watching marks has never been more important.”

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