Protecting Our Mark: Trademark Infringement

By James Dingman

All of us love the Help-U-Sell brand name and its registered Marks.  It communicates a message of Effectiveness and Value to consumers and remains a key to our marketing success.  That’s why it’s serious business when someone uses the Mark without authorization.  Sometimes it’s an independent broker who wants to trade on the name without paying for it.  Sometimes it’s a former Help-U-Sell broker who just can’t seem to get around to changing the signs.  Sometimes it’s a former member who was excluded in the bankruptcy of RIS and the transfer to Infinium (there were quite a few who were not assumed by the new owners and therefore those agreements died).

Our course of action in these situations is clear:

  • First the infringer gets a ‘Cease and Desist’ demand from Help-U-Sell Real Estate.  They may actually get more than one with the second being stronger than the first.
  • If changes are not made, we may go to court and secure an injunction forcing removal of the Mark from the infringer’s materials.
  • In these kinds of cases, it’s not unusual for the court to award a sizable chunk of the infringer’s revenue to the owner of the Mark as damages.

I often come across violations on the Internet.  I have a Google Alert set for ‘Help-U-Sell’ so that anytime anyone uses the name on a site that’s indexed by Google, I am notified.  Every day I get a dozen or so and usually they are all fine:  just the activity of Help-U-Sell team members.  But every once in awhile I get a clunker:  someone who has no right to the mark using it without authorization.  I pass those on to the Legal Department.

It’s important for you to help us protect the Mark.  Fraudulent use hurts all of us and diminishes the value of the brand.  If you come across someone infringing on our trademarks, let me or anyone at corporate know.  If, in two months you continue to see the infringement, follow-up with us.  Because we are not in your local market, we may not know whether a Cease and Desist demand has worked.

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