Some companies do them religiously. Others do not. But if holding trademarks, companies should consider an annual trademark audit to (1) identify new and existing trademarks and give the company a clear picture of its assets and (2) better manage, protect, and fully exploit the value of these assets, notes Christine Baker of www.copyrighttrademarkmatters.com.
A trademark audit, which should be done by someone who understands trademarks and service marks, consists of 4 steps:
- Thoroughly review a company’s product line or services, web site, and promotional and marketing literature and take an inventory of all new and existing marks;
- Determine that the marks are registered with or are the subject of pending applications before the United States Patent and Trademark Office and foreign trademark offices.
- Focus on whether important trademarks are in use and have been renewed with appropriate trademark offices. In many countries, trademark rights can lapse and registrations can be cancelled if a mark hasn’t been used for a period of 3 to 5 years.
- Determine whether a company’s federally registered marks have been recorded with the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP). If the audit reveals that this important step was overlooked, consideration should be given to recording trademarks with CBP. That way, custom officials will be able to detain, seize, and forfeit shipments of trademarked goods that violate your company’s federally registered trademark rights.