September 20, 2020

Carve It All Up: Compumark Report Shows Trademark Registrations, Claims Of Infringement Both Rising Fast

As we’ve talked about for some time, one of the long-tail effects of the increased use of intellectual property in American culture has been the supercharging effect it’s had on fomenting a permission culture in general. This effect is compounding, as permission culture breeds IP protectionism, which breeds permission culture. The overall effect this has is to cause far too many people to believe that everything that exists can be owned and controlled.

You can see the effect in action in the uptick of trademark registrations and claims of infringement in a recent survey result from Compumark.

85% of brands experienced trademark infringement in the past year, showing a steady upward trend from 81% in 2018 and 74% in 2017. This is according to the latest research from CompuMark, the industry leader in trademark research and protection, and a Clarivate Analytics company.

For those that suffered infringement, consequences were significant, with the top three cited as customer confusion (45%), loss of revenue (38%) and damage to brand reputation (37%). Three quarters of trademark infringements also led to litigation, with 40% of organizations spending between $50,000 – $249,999 on legal proceedings. In addition, 46% of respondents had to rebrand as a result of infringement, an exercise which can be costly for brands.

With these numbers and the plethora of stories we post here about just how many claims of infringement and trademark disputes are protectionist in nature and often unreasonable, this sure seems like an awful lot of wasted time, money, and bandwidth by the court system for whatever benefit trademark law is currently providing. Are there instances out there of true trademark infringement, where actual customer confusion is a thing and business effects are very much felt? Of course there are. But 85% of brands experiencing trademark infringement? If that number is true, it sure seems to suggest we need to recalibrate what we consider infringement more than anything else.

Disappointing as well were respondents’ apparent views that the solution to all that ails us in trademark issues is technology.

Technology was the most cited (49%) way of improving the trademark research and protection process, with artificial intelligence seen as the method of speeding up search, watch and review, as well as in using predictive analytics and automating tasks.

No. For the love of god, no. Supercharging our permission culture’s worst aspects by building digital terminators to carry out our paranoia is not the solution. The solution is a more narrowly applied view of trademark rights with a return to the law’s original purpose, which is avoiding public confusion as to the source of a good or service.
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