At AH, the associations we work with are extremely important to us. We take copyright and trademark infringement seriously to protect our associations and their members. Our associations’ members pay their dues and meet membership requirements earning them the right to promote their affiliation with the association and in many cases display the association’s logo.
When non-members who have not paid dues fraudulently use the association’s logo to falsely promote membership, it devalues the membership and takes away from those who are truly members of the association. We see many fraudulent violations, specifically where companies will post an association’s trademarked logo on websites, print advertisements, and even in email signatures to falsely imply membership and/or certification.
The steps to take when you notice an offense vary with each situation since there are many ways to go about reporting and it is advised to consult with legal counsel to help determine the proper course of action.
However, here are three common ways to report and address trademark infringement:
- Typically, a website will have a “Contact Us” section. It is recommended to reach out to the offending company or individual informing them of their violation. An email is the best bet, so you are able to have a paper trail documenting your efforts to have the material removed (just in case you need to take legal actions down the road).
- Mailing a formal cease and desist letter is a great option as well, since it will help define when the party was informed of the infringement (if the actions will need to be taken to trial). After the letter is received and the company continues to violate the copyright or trademark, it becomes willful infringement where additional legal actions may be taken.
- Reaching out to the company website domain host (a site that creates URL’s for particular web pages, i.e. godaddy.com) and explaining that one of their clients is misusing/violating copyrights and trademarks. There are many sites that will provide you with the domain host. Once the domain host is informed, they will also reach out to the company and if the company is not receptive to changing their site, the domain host can shut down the website where the infringement is taking place.
Does your association have an action plan for dealing with infringement? If not, consider putting a plan in place so you can help protect your association’s trademarks and its members.