IP Investigations: Tarnishments

IP Investigations, Continental Enterprises, Tarnishments

Question: We constantly see our brand or logo being used in a derogatory way. What can we do about it?

Everyone has seen them - famous logos altered to contain salacious or offensive messages. Pepsi® becoming “Sexsi.” Nintendo® Wii® becoming “Weed.” These infringements have become ubiquitous. The problems with putting a stop to them are as well known as the brands they prey upon.

Tarnishments can have a very detrimental impact on your brand and goodwill. They typically juxtapose brands with messages that are distasteful, lewd, hateful and even criminal. Themes of violence and drug abuse are common. Distancing your brand from these infringements is essential to developing and maintaining a positive brand image. Additionally, maintaining a consistent level of enforcement against these infringements prevents your brand from becoming a recurring target for tarnishments.

Making a significant impact on these infringements using traditional enforcement methods can be difficult because the manufacturers and distributors of these infringements are typically not large, well-organized companies. Instead, tarnishments usually originate from smaller, unconnected infringers. This makes litigation unattractive. However, the number of companies and individuals engaging in this type of activity can aggregate to a very serious problem. Moreover, when left unaddressed, tarnishments that begin as small fads can quickly permeate the marketplace because of the tendency of infringers to copy one another’s designs. To compound these problems, traditional infringement analyses are behind the times and ineffective when addressing tarnishments. As a result, brand owners often feel that they have no other choice but to look the other way when it comes to these infringements.

You do not have to ignore them any more. Avoiding these infringements or dealing with them sporadically are not the only options. Continental Enterprises ("Continental") has developed an approach to dealing with tarnishments that is cost-effective, systematic and gets results. Some key elements to Continental’s strategy are:

  • Assisting you with registering trademarks [hyperlink] for distinctive elements of the design. This transforms tarnishment cases into regular counterfeiting cases.
  • Consistently monitoring the marketplace to keep tarnishments under control and quickly identifying and responding to new tarnishment trends.
  • Triaging cases so that we can quickly handle small infringers through a streamlined and organized program.
  • Aggressively negotiating settlements to help alleviate your costs.

By employing these tactics, Continental Enterprises has changed the paradigm for addressing tarnishments. Our compliance rate with the infringers we take action against is near 100%. Additionally, being actively engaged in the marketplace for tarnishments allows us to identify larger upline manufacturers as well as true counterfeits, which are often traded in the same channels as tarnishments. This makes consistent policing of tarnishments an essential and valuable component to any successful brand-protection strategy.