“3 minutes of fun and a lifetime of suffering," sighed Betsy whose first soirée in the forbidden garden resulted in an unplanned pregnancy. A rushed shotgun wedding followed soon after, before her growing bump became too obvious to explain away with "too much snacking". The precipitous decision to marry the father of her baby, a high school dropout who was barely out of his teens himself, turned out to be her second and gravest mistake. Within 6 months of their wedding, he'd run off with a call girl from Colorado. Leaving Betsy a parting gift of 6000 dollars in debts owed to various creditors. Now she is working two part-time jobs to put food on the table and to keep the house from being repossessed. "3 minutes of fun…" she bemoaned before knocking down a glass of cheap bourbon.
While trademark registration may not be as dramatic as your average soap opera, it comes with some huge responsibilities too. Time schedules, maintenance, safeguards, and sometimes custody battles are just some of the post-registration obligations that a trademark owner will face in the upkeep of his mark.
While I have yet to father a child (at least I don’t think I have), I do have a cat; which is pretty much the same thing really. Josie was just a kitten, less than a month old when I found her. I remember bringing her to the vet and I was handed a vaccination schedule with all the vaccination dates for the next 5 years. To help me remember the dates of her next vaccination, I would mark them on my calendar. Josie would help by marking the numbers of vaccines she has had on my arm. Three scars for each visit to the vet.
After your trademark is registered, there are also certain dates on which actions need to be taken for the wellbeing or indeed the survival of your trademark. For example, in most countries, a trademark must be renewed every 10 years either from the date on which the trademark is filed with the registry or the date on which the trademark is granted registration. If a trademark is not renewed by the renewal date (there may be an additional grace period of 6-12 months depending on the country) the mark’s protection would be withdrawn. However, in countries where there are no proper trademark legislation and/or a trademark register (e.g., Myanmar and the Maldives), cautionary notices should be published in the local newspapers every 3 years to claim your ownership of the trademark. Apart from renewals, in some countries (e.g., the Philippines and the USA), trademark owners are required to provide evidence that their trademarks are being used locally on certain dates throughout the lifetime of the trademarks. Failing which, their trademark registrations may be revoked.
It is natural that doting parents would want to protect their children from all harm throughout their whole life. I remember when I was in high school, the girls who called my house looking for me would have to go through a detailed background check and a lengthy interrogation before most of them were informed that I was not home, regardless of whether I was in fact home. Even now, my mom still gives me a curfew of 11pm every time I’m home despite the fact that I am 27.
Parents of young ladies in the Victorian era were particularly protective of their daughters’ reputation. Any hints of fornication will undoubtedly destroy a lady’s marital prospects. A trademark owner should also be active in safeguarding the good name or reputation of his trademark, even after registration. Trademarks are particularly susceptible to any activities that could dilute their ability to function as a source indicator. That means the infringement or misuse of a trademark can devalue it, or worse, spell demise for it. Trademark infringements occur when one party uses a trademark owned by another party in trade, without the trademark owner’s consent. This could be a counterfeit product, or a business which is wrongfully and erroneously attributing its services to another party. By putting a product or service which bears the trademark of another person in the market, the value of the trademark becomes diluted. This is because the public will not be able to tell for certain that the products or services they see before them are from the same source. This presents a problem to a trademark owner who uses his trademark as an indication of quality, because there are now so many products/services in the market that bear his trademark which quality he has no control of. A faulty product or inferior services from one imposter may damage the reputation of the company irrevocably.
After navigating the challenging first three months of your baby’s life where you are likely to get as much sleep as a soldier in the WWI trenches, and trotting through the sweet and exciting time of your tot’s formative years and then weathering the tempestuous season of hormones and angst, there comes a time in every parent’s life where their hatchlings will spread their wings and leave the comfort of the nest. Be it for college or for work, out of town or overseas, the thought of your children being away and out in the world is always a daunting prospect. Most parents would equip their children as best they can whether financially or like my university mate’s dad, who had given his son a stockpile of prophylactics before he left for England on account of his son’s astounding virility and the fabled liberalism of the Europeans.
Sending a trademark overseas can be as daunting an experience for the owner too. You will have to ensure that your trademark is protected in the strange and foreign land. You most likely would want to register your trademark in the countries that it is in to enjoy full legal protection. Further, to safeguard the integrity of your trademark you may also have to take stern action against the parties who have wrongfully appropriated or used your trademark. Because each time you rightfully enforce your rights, you send out a resounding message to the public like what Brian Mills sent to his daughter’s abductors in the movie Taken: “I don’t know who you are... but I will look for you, I will find you and I will sue you.” If you do find yourself in this situation, assistance from local IP professionals will go a long way. The last thing you would want is to be entangled in a legal proceeding in a country which language you do not speak and which laws you do not understand.
Yes, bringing up a trademark, like bringing up a child, involves a lot of time, resources and effort. But most parents and trademark owners would agree, that if you do it right, all the blood, toil, tears and sweat will be worth your while.