I recently interviewed General Manager of Corsearch, Joshua Braunstein, about the challenges facing trademark professionals today … and tomorrow.
Challenge #1: Globalization has shifted the way trademark professionals work
One of the biggest challenges for trademark professionals is the increasingly global nature of brands, according to Braunstein. In the past, many brands tended to be local and perhaps even regional, but as global commerce has proliferated, brands expanded their reach and geographical boundaries dissolved. At the same time, brand equity has grown and organizations now have a better understanding of the role it plays in a company’s success. A brand is one of the most leveragable and valuable assets a company can have. As a result, Braunstein said, brands increasingly see the value in becoming more global, which introduces new challenges for trademark professionals, including:
- Different laws in every country and region affect trademark practice and rights
- Cultural nuances, connotation, and language play a critical role in how a brand is perceived and represented
- Increasing global scope creates increased administration, complexity, and management challenges
This new world of global brands has had a large impact on the role of trademark professionals. “Today,” said Braunstein, “practitioners are tasked not only to clear marks in their home jurisdiction, but to manage and often lead regional and global efforts to leverage equity across a range of countries.” Trademark professionals need better tools, support, and expertise in this increasingly complex environment. Combining global capabilities and local expertise is a must, and collaborating with a network of trusted partners is critical.
Corsearch recently acquired Avantiq, a provider of multi-national trademark research services based in Luxembourg. The acquisition strengthened Corsearch’s global expertise, said Braunstein, and brought together two cultures “that are absolutely passionate about the work they do, the trademark community, and their customers.” According to Braunstein, Avantiq extends Corsearch’s global reach through:
- Strong expertise in managing large complicated clearance projects that span geographies
- People who understand the geographic complexity of trademark clearance
- Established processes and procedures to manage large projects
Another Avantiq advantage is its strong pharmaceutical expertise, which is second to none in the industry, according to Braunstein. Emphasizing this, he said: “I strongly believe that by combining the assets of Avantiq and Corsearch together that the pharmaceutical industry has created a best-in-class global clearance process for trademark clearance.”
Challenge #2: Corporate pressures encourage law firms to be more efficient
A second challenge Braunstein sees is the increasing pressure on corporate practices and law firms to run their practices more like a business, with an eye on increasing efficiencies and getting the best value. This focus on business operations brings its own challenges, including the need to constantly develop new ways to re-engineer law practice to provide the best value to their customers. Braunstein said Corsearch excels at helping clients address this very challenge. “We’re happy to partner with our law firm and corporate customers since this is a challenge that is going to increase over time and it’s not going to go away. By helping our customers increase their value to their own end customers, we become a partner in their success.”
Challenge #3: Internet and social media issues drive a need for online brand protection
Braunstein talked about another challenge for trademark professionals — the impact of social media on brands. Although social media, Internet channels, and e-commerce present a host of opportunities to get brands out in front of customers, Braunstein warned that they also bring their own set of challenges, including cybersquatting, brand dilution, website diversion, and many more. Brand dilution is a significant threat, especially since social media conversations don’t always position a brand in a positive light. According to Braunstein, “It behooves brand owners to understand the equity that their brands hold and to make sure they’re monitoring and acting on threats and opportunities within the social media space.”
Last week, Corsearch acquired CitizenHawk, a premier provider of SaaS solutions and services specializing in online brand protection and global domain recovery. Braunstein said the CitizenHawk acquisition positions Corsearch well to address customers’ growing challenges: “There is a clear market convergence between online brand protection and traditional trademark and brand protection. Trademark professionals and brand stakeholders are increasingly expanding their scope to address Internet infringement issues, making online brand protection a natural space for us to expand.”
To note, Braunstein also mentioned that the new gTLD program places further requirements for trademark professionals to maintain their online protection. Although the program presents a multitude of opportunities for brands, he emphasized that the challenges to ensure that brands are identified, monitored, and protected in the new gTLD environment will be significant. Corsearch’s Trademark Clearinghouse Filing Service offers a way for brands to monitor and protect their domains in this changing landscape.
For the future, Braunstein said there will be significantly increased pressure on legal teams to make sure their brands are being monitored and protected in both online and traditional channels. The trend toward global brands will continue, he said, and all trademark holders will need to become more global in their practice and begin to understand how the global economy impacts how they clear and protect their trademarks.
Braunstein predicts that trademark challenges around social media and domain names will continue to proliferate and the pressure to run law practices like a business will grow. Constantly finding more efficient, better, and faster ways to get work done is something that both brand holders and Corsearch will face. The good news, bad news, according to Braunstein, is that every great leap forward in providing new tools then becomes the benchmark and sets new expectations for brand professionals and owners alike, which then fuels even more expectation and innovation.
Do you have any questions for Joshua Braunstein about the challenges that trademark professionals face? Enter your question in our Comments section and it might be chosen to be included in our upcoming video chat series.