How often do you Google your trademark?

How do you react to a sight of a retail store that just launched? Early adopters enjoy using a product or service before other people do, but most of the consumers tend to be a lot less passionate about embracing a new store although its sight might pop among aging stores.

That is why many businesses spend fortune to run commercials on TV and place advertisements on publications to familiarize their trademarks to customers. Since an excessive amount of advertisements is pouring in through various media, most modern consumers consider the ads as something they want to avoid as much as possible.

Accordingly, alternative marketing tactics, including internet marketing, is considered much more efficient than those traditional advertisements nowadays. In addition to running official websites and social network accounts, many businesses are employing even newer internet marketing tactics including sponsoring popular bloggers or social network accounts in an effort to expose their products and trademarks to their customers.

These methods do not expose the trademarks to potential consumers who are involuntarily watching the commercials but make them actively seek the contents containing their trademarks. As a result, even though the content might be identical, which may be a summary of product feature, it becomes the information that was researched by themselves instead of an empty statement by the one who wants to sell products or service to them.

In fact, many consumers utilize internet search to research the information about or the reputation of an unfamiliar business or a new product, and they typically type in a trademark for the search. If you google a trademark of a business, it is likely that the official website of the business appears on the first page of the search results, which might not be true when keywords are used for the search of the business.

When the business has no official website, a review post by popular review sites such as Yelp and Google Maps would populate the top results. As opposed to an official website, the contents of review websites cannot be controlled by the business, so they can be easily tainted by few unfair reviews that are written by angry customers.

Let alone an official website, even a review of the business could be missing on the first page of the search result, in which case customers might feel very suspicious about the legitimacy of the business. More often than not, it gives a bad impression to customers. If you carefully examine those instances, you find problems within the trademarks themselves.

For example, a bad trademark may only include a name of the town or a common term used in the trade, like “Chicago”, “beauty”, and “supply”. You can easily expect that the search result for “Chicago beauty supply” would include all beauty supply stores in the region. There are other instances such as using a description of the product or service as a trademark such as “Luxury Beauty Supply”. These names will unlikely be distinguished by search engines from common keyword searches and return generic information that are not specific to the business.

Considering the bad impression to internet savvy consumers caused by choosing an inappropriate trademark, you should determine whether your choice of words could bring about a strong trademark even before you start using it. Even if you have already started using it, you should continuously monitor whether other businesses are misappropriating your trademark or there are similar trademarks causing confusion among customers. Regular monitoring helps laying a solid foundation for your trademark.

You can start monitoring by simply typing in your trademark in the Google search box. The result will not only reveal whether the mark you want to use can become a strong trademark in the future but also whether the trademark you are using is being misappropriated by others.

It’s never too late. Google your trademark today!

By Youngsik Jeon, Esq.

J.D. Chicago-Kent College of Law; Georgia & Illinois Bar Member; USPTO Registered Patent Attorney