An effective trademark compliance policy may be good for your health.
Each year, healthcare providers are named unwitting defendants in trademark infringement suits in the U.S. district courts. The same holds true for trademark opposition and cancellation proceedings brought before the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. So what is the good news? Many lawsuits can be avoided through proper education and trademark compliance training.
By way of example, the National Institute of Health (NIH) has written trademark compliance policies and guidelines for its employees. This U.S. government agency knows the importance of trademark rights and how to protect its vast array of brand names used in connection with its various services. Equally important is its awareness of the risks that trademark infringement can bring, including disruption to public marketing and promotional initiatives.
So if you’re a health system or other healthcare provider, it’s a good idea to implement a trademark education and compliance program for employees. General areas that should be included in a trademark compliance program are:
- trademark definitions and concepts
- explanation of the trademark clearance process
- how to search, clear, and apply to register trademarks
- trademark use guidelines
- what is trademark fair use and what is not
- employee roles, responsibilities, and procedure
- creative and marketing vendor responsibilities and procedures
- trademark usage in digital marketing, including paid search
In addition to the above, annual risk and compliance training should take place with all employees and key vendors that have responsibility for brand assets, marketing, and promotions. Health systems literally spend millions of dollars a year in brand marketing and promotional efforts. Making brand compliance an integral part of your compliance and risk strategy can help protect your valuable brand investments and mitigate your risks.
An ounce of prevention is indeed worth a pound of cure.
Editor’s Note: To discuss your trademark compliance policy or how to design and implement one, please contact us.