More than a third of companies have increased trademark policing budgets since last year, according to a recent report from IP management and analytics software company Lecorpio.
Lecorpio’s second annual “Trademark Management Study,” released May 16, asked the company’s corporate counsel clients about changes in their trademark portfolios and in-house counsel teams. Responses to one question reveal that 36 percent of respondents increased their trademark policing budgets in the past year. This is a marked increase from the 18 percent who reported this budget uptick in last year’s results.
At least one factor leading to increased resources around brand protection, the in-house attorneys said, is the ongoing roll-out of generic top-level domains (gTLDs), overseen by the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). In May of last year, the ICANN announced more than 1,000 new gTLDs—the last segment of a domain name, such as “.com” or “.org”—leading to some concern that this would expand the universe for cybersquatters.
“Every day, they are adding new domains into the system and there are a number of variations that can be used,” said J. Scott Evans, director of trademarks at Adobe Systems Inc. Although he said there has not been a huge increase in infringers, he explained that there has been steady growth and more activity each quarter, as “every new domain that opens up is just another playing field for bad behaviors.”
At Time Warner Inc., the influx of top-level domains has required additional efforts and resources on two fronts, said Bradley Silver, chief intellectual property counsel at the company. “It’s important for any brand protection program to have a good grasp on where marks are being used, who is using them and how to drill down on those that require more attention,” he said. “In getting there, we definitely had to spend a lot more time and are still devoting additional time and resources in monitoring that activity.”