Trademark tips that should fit snugly on the screen of your favorite device (cough, iPhone, cough).
What should you do if a competitor has filed a trademark very similar to yours? You basically have several bad options:
Option 1 – Do nothing. Hope they forget to file something (such as a Statement of Use) with the USPTO, go away, and/or go out of business. Issues: free, but outcome uncertain.
Option 2 – Convince them to file an Express Abandonment of their trademark application (http://teas.uspto.gov/rea/) and re-brand. Issues: less expensive, but hard to convince them to do so.
Option 3 – If their trademark has not yet been examined, then file a Letter of Protest with the USPTO (http://www.uspto.gov/trademark/trademark-updates-and-announcements/letter-protest-practice-tip). If their trademark has been published, then file a Request for Extension of Time to File an Opposition (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIvngyjFFdY). Issues: Letters of Protest can sometimes derail a bad trademark application, but Opposition proceedings have all of the issues of Cancellation proceedings (see below).
Option 4 – If the 30-day publication period has passed, then wait until they get a registered trademark and then file a Petition to Cancel. Issues: moderately expensive and takes a long time (probably $30K and 30 months), but outcome pretty certain (you win).
Option 5 – Litigate. Send them a C&D letter, be prepared to litigate in your market or theirs (if they file a Declaratory Judgment action). Issues: most expensive, most time consuming, but outcome pretty certain (you win).
Option 6 – Blog about the situation and let the matter play out in the court of public opinion. But be careful what you say so that you don’t find yourself on the receiving end of a defamation lawsuit! Issues: fun but risky.
Come to think of it, “Fun But Risky” would make a pretty good band name. You’re welcome.