I have received a number of emails lately from Mom bloggers basically stating: “Stacy, I recently started my blog/e-zine/newsletter and immediately received an email from company X saying I was in violation of their trademark(s) and they would take legal action if I do not resolve the issue. What does this mean!?”
Here’s my perspective on how to deal with this difficult position:
1. Businesses pay a ton for trademarks, and thus will (and actually need to) protect these trademarks in order to hold their rights and intellectual property. Thus while you did not realize that your blog was tripping over their trademarks, you should definitely change your blog name. This has been happening a ton as bloggers pick names for their blogs without doing a trademark search against the title chosen. And confusion in search results is actionable by trademark holders. It’s not the content of your blog- it’s the name itself. And you don’t want to get entangled with a cease and desist letter or further action from them.
2. Don’t let the trademark holder bully you – One blogger even claimed that the brand threatened her concerning her FTC disclosures. It’s none of their business about the FTC disclosures. As long as you let your readers know when you get free products, samples, compensation, etc. from a brand or company in connection with the blog- you’re fine. And when we review stuff that we own or have bought or even read about, no disclosure is needed. Trademark accidents happen, and asking nicely will usually resolve the situation, resorting to threats will only cause the situation to escalate and become snarky.
3. Before choosing a name for your platform be sure to run a Google search and see if that phrasing has been taken already .
4. Next, visit the U.S. Trademark Office and view their database!
I hope this clears up any issues you may have in the future!