How Trademark Lawyers Can Be Savvy with Social Media

Staying on top of your clients’ marks is important as a trademark lawyer – which is exactly why we created Name Warden! Name Warden does the admin work of trademark tracking.  Name Warden figures out and keeps track of deadlines for you, and the monitoring side gives you much earlier and more complete insight. 

When another company or brand files a USPTO application that may violate your trademark, you want to know right away. Name Warden monitors filings with the USPTO very early in the application process, and allows trademark owners to flag and track any worrisome applications to see whether and when they move through the application process toward registration.

But what if a similar brand is out there, and the owners don’t apply to register that mark? How can you catch trademark violators who may be under the radar? We suggest using social media!

Social Media Monitoring Tools Social-IP-Law

There are dozens of monitoring tools out there with fancy features and dashboards. These tools are a great way to keep an eye on mentions of your trademark without having to do much work. Enter the keywords, phrases, or hashtags you want, and get notified when someone uses them. For larger clients, these tools can help you stay on top. Here are a few to check out:

Awario – Awario monitors “all corners of the web” for mentions of the keywords you’re interested in. The pricing is based on how many “alerts” you need.

Mention – Mention monitors social media channels for mentions of your keywords. The pricing is based on number of users and the number of keywords you want to monitor.

Hootsuite – Hootsuite allows you to monitor unlimited keywords and is priced based on how many social media account you connect to it. While you won’t get an alert, Hootsuite has a freemium model that makes it a pretty good deal.

Manually Checking Social Media

If there’s no need for serious monitoring tools but you still need to keep your eyes and ears peeled, going the manual route is a good idea too. Twitter has its own search tool for advanced searches that can be accessed at search.twitter.com. You can also create advanced searches on LinkedIn, and of course, you can search Facebook for company pages. 

Beyond the big three, you should also be in the know about industry focused social media sites. One great example for the beer industry would be Untappd. Untappd is a social media site where beer lovers can “check-in” to the beers they’re drinking. On the brewery side, you can manage your listing and add your beers. The platform is 100% searchable, making it a great way to go looking for beer names you may have trademarked. We all know the beer industry is ripe with trademark violations!

Being efficient is crucial in the trademark world. The best way to be efficient? Harnessing all the best technology tools. Use social media to stay on top of your trademarks and if you don’t already use Name Warden, check us out to monitor USPTO data.

Name Warden Does What?! 3 Cool Features You May Not Know

Our users love how easy trademark docketing and defense is with Name Warden. By Name-Warden-Featureseliminating the need for data entry and automating tasks, Name Warden has saved trademark attorneys countless hours of admin work. But there are other Name Warden features beyond trademark monitoring and defense! Here are 3 cool Name Warden features to know about.

Find New Clients

There are a lot of business owners who file trademark applications on their own, and then receive an office action or notice of allowance they don’t understand.  With Name Warden’s Client Finder feature, trademark lawyers receive a report of each such DIY filer who now has a deadline he doesn’t know how to handle.  You can offer your services exactly when they are needed. Client Finder provides current lists of all trademark applicants who have an office action, opposition, or required ITU filing but no listed attorney. You’ll receive full contact details for these applicants, as well as their application data.

Uncover and Monitor Trends

Name Warden is essentially a robot that crawls the USPTO database to find terms and deadlines based on each user’s docket. Beyond your own marks, you can use Name Warden’s defensive monitoring feature to research USPTO data for any key words and categories. It’s how we stay on top of new beer names, memes, and other fun trademark categories we like to blog about.

Connect to Clio

Are you a Clio user?  Many small and mid-sized firms are!  That’s why we’ve partnered with them to become an official Clio connected app. Connect Name Warden with Clio, and your trademark docket will appear as tasks and calendar items within Clio, automatically, syncing back and forth as you manage deadlines and complete filings on either site.

These great Name Warden features are all included for one low price!

Don’t spend valuable, billable time on tasks that can be delegated to robots! If you’re not already a user, try it for free for 14 days. We don’t require a credit card, and set-up is easy. All you have to do to get started is search by email address, attorney name, mark, or serial number. We will show you what the USPTO has for you, and build your Docket. Name Warden will show you all deadlines for your Docket list, and send you email reminders of what is coming up.

Is it time for some law practice spring cleaning?

The trees are getting their leaves back, everything is in bloom, and if you suffer from allergies, you’re Law-Office-Spring-Cleaningfeeling the pollen count rise. Spring is here! For most of us that means it’s time to spring clean the house. But what about your law practice?

Law practice spring cleaning means sprucing up processes, knocking things off to-do lists, fixing your law office filing systems, and increasing productivity. Here are five ways to spring clean your law practice. 

Admin

You know that stuff no one likes do? Documentation, filing, billing, accounting, bill pay… Make catching up on office items part of your law practice spring cleaning. You might actually find that desk of yours under everything that’s been piling up. You’ll also breathe a sigh of relief once you’ve accomplished those pesky admin tasks.

Tech tools

Speaking of admin tasks, did you know that on average, only 28 percent of a lawyer’s work is billable? That non-billable work mostly boils down to admin stuff.  A lot of it can be automated thanks to technology. Spend some time researching and setting up new legal tech tools that will make your practice run more efficiently.

For trademark lawyers, Name Warden can definitely save some time. With Name Warden, all your marks and deadlines are in one place, it’s easy to keep up with your filings, and the set-up is a breeze. Here are 20 Law Practice Technology Tools that are worth your attention.

Task triage

Another great way to approach law practice spring cleaning is to do some task triage. What’s on your to-do list? Isn’t it time to start knocking those things off? Maybe use a new tech tool to help! List all of the things you’ve been meaning to do, sort them by importance, and assign deadlines to hold yourself accountable. Which tasks are urgent, which need to be done next week and which can be done next month? You are more likely to get through your to-do list if you take the time to organize it.

Delegation

You don’t have to do everything. You shouldn’t try.  Anything that can’t be tasked to a robot should be delegated to an assistant. Take that list of tasks you triaged and see what can be delegated. Hiring help is a big step and always something of an overhead-expanding gut check.  We get it.  But we are willing to bet you’ll be very glad that you hired some support, whether it’s part time or full time.

Digital Check-up

An important item that law practices often forget about is their digital presence. If you haven’t looked at your website or social media channels in a while, make that part of your law practice spring cleaning project. Is everything on your website up-to-date? Are there changes that could be made? Have your WordPress plugins been updated? How about your blog? You should also take a look at your social media profiles. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and all other social media channels have proper descriptions and logos and look clean and professional.

You don’t have to tackle all of this in one weekend like you would a spring cleaning project at home. Go through each item, make checklists, delegate tasks, and assign yourself some deadlines. A little spring cleaning could get you on your way to increased efficiency and more time for billable hours.

Key Insights from the Clio Legal Trends Report

Some of the most innovative companies of the 21st century leverage data to make better business Legal Trends Reportdecisions and stay ahead of their competition. Unfortunately, unless you work for one of a few giant law firms who have put resources into it, being data driven hasn’t been an option. Solo, small, and medium sized firms make up 80% of the legal profession. That’s a huge percentage of firms left in the dark… Until now!

For the first time probably ever, data insights for solo, small, and medium sized firms have been aggregated, analyzed, and reported, thanks to Clio. Clio is a cloud-based law practice management software that has aggregated anonymized data from its many users. Clio’s Legal Trends Report synthesizes actual usage data from its practice management platform. Here are some key insights we found in the Legal Trends Report.

Productivity/Billable hours

One of the most glaring things in the Legal Trends Report was the low utilization rate by law firms. Clio’s data uncovered that on average, only 28 percent of a lawyer’s work is billable. So, out of a typical workday, lawyers only bill 2.24 hours to clients.

This clearly shows that lawyers spend a great deal of their time on tasks that are not billable. It also suggests that not enough firms are utilizing tools to help them automate their non-billable tasks.

Lost hours

The Legal Trends Report uncovered an average of 6 unpaid hours per day. According to the report, small-to-mid-sized firms only collect 1.4 hours of paid time for each workday. Where do they lose those six hours? Clio suggests it may be a matter of not having enough work to support more billable hours per day. It may also be a bandwidth or efficiency problem, meaning firms may not have the capacity to devote more than 1.4 hours to billable work because they spend too much time on non-billable work.

Things like administrative tasks and marketing are necessary, time-consuming, and non-billable. This is another sign that more firms need to harness tools (such as Name Warden for you trademark lawyers) to automate non-billable tasks.

Hourly Rates 

Another big piece of helpful data from the report was the breakdown of hourly rates. The report uncovered average hourly rates by state as well as hourly rates versus the Consumer Price Index. It turns out, the legal industry has failed to keep up with inflation. The report showed that lawyers are actually making less money today than they were in 2010.

Overall, the Legal Trends Report put hard data behind a some real challenges in the legal industry: productivity, time spent on non-billable matters, and rate-setting. Legal professionals need to take note of the latest and greatest legal tech out there. Between automation tools, dashboards, and tools with A.I. capability, delegating non-billable tasks to robots is a reality. For IP Lawyers, Name Warden is a tool that will free you of time consuming tasks like data entry and tracking marks and deadlines.

3 Things DIY Legal Sites Can Teach Trademark Lawyers

The internet is vast portal of information (and misinformation). On any given day you can pop into DIY-legal-sitesYouTube and teach yourself to garden, or knit, or fix your kitchen sink. Thanks to sites like Canva you can DIY design your own marketing materials. But what about DIY legal services?

Did you just shudder?

We all know they exist and that people use them. A lot of people, in fact. But are they a threat to the trademark lawyers of the world? The short answer: no.

DIY legal sites are not really competition for trademark lawyers because those people were probably never going to hire a trademark lawyer anyways. But there are lessons to be learned from the rise of these sites!

Lesson #1: Their pricing structure

Trademark lawyers would benefit from making their structures more simple and more transparent, so that potential clients aren’t overestimating the cost and going to a DIY legal site out of baseless price fears. Just take a look at popular DIY legal sites like LegalZoom. Their site tells visitors up front what the cost (or price range) is going to be, what the process entails, and what the deliverables are. 

Lesson #2: Their websites

DIY legal sites are sales machines. Take a cue from the genius marketing behind them. Their landing pages have pictures that allow small business owners to easily identify the fact that they are in the right place (and the right price range). Their copy is in plain language and speaks to the pain points they are experiencing (not having your brand protected). There is also a clear call to action for what to do next.

Lesson #3: Use Name Warden

The Name Warden Client Finder service was designed to help lawyers find unrepresented applicants who now have office actions, notices of allowance, or other work to do that they don’t understand because they didn’t use a lawyer for their initial filing. A great opportunity to swoop in and save the day!

They may not be direct competition, but pay attention and you may pick up some good ideas for  drawing potential DIYers over to your practice.

When is it Just Not Worth the Trademark Fight?

Well intentioned trademark enforcement efforts can sometimes cause unintended collateral damage.  Even a victorious trademark fight can be accompanied by a PR nightmare. In some cases, the PR problems can cost more than a legal battle. Brand defense is a noble effort, but not if the PR damage is too great.

Take Vail Resorts’ trademark application for the words ‘Park City’, an iconic ski community.  The application resulted in outrage by the town and a costly trademark fight. After a rally of angry community members and a lot of bad press, Vail Resorts ended up withdrawing their application.

trademark-fightIn addition to bad PR, there could be significantly more financial costs to the client when it comes to a big trademark fight. For instance, bad PR could require the hiring of a PR firm to squash and spin the press. It could also end up being a long and expensive legal battle.

The Washington Redskins case was not a case of enforcement gone overboard, but it is still a prime example of how tangled and expensive a protracted trademark fight can be.  The team has been in trademark litigation since 2013 when they were asked to change their name due to its disparaging reference to Native Americans. Three years later, they’ve appealed their way to the Supreme Court and are still fighting the battle.

The Redskins have plenty of resources to continue a trademark fight of this magnitude, but does your client? There’s a fair amount to consider when it comes to defending a mark.

Here are some things to consider and discuss before starting or continuing a trademark battle.

  1. Is your trademark strategy too broad?  Remember that unless there is a real probability of consumer confusion, trademark law will not ultimately support your demand.
  2. Are you trying to capitalize on a colloquial or local term in a way that will upset the community in which your business resides?
  3. Are you trying to squash a little guy who may have made a mistake or is unaware of how their mark could be confusing?
  4. Is there a less aggressive means for your request of the other party? For example, a less formal email or a phone call.  Keep in mind that cease and desist letters are very often posted online by the recipients, inviting and inciting criticism from far and wide.

While it’s of utmost importance to ensure that your client’s trademarks are protected, it’s also important to know the risks involved in pursing a legal battle. If there’s cause to send a cease and desist, you should always assume your letter will become public and could create some backlash. Careful consideration should be made about your next steps, and strategies in place to prevent or manage collateral damage.

Should IP Attorneys Use Flat Fee or Hourly Fee Billing?

The number of hours you bill per week is a common concern in the life of a lawyer – especially if youfees work in a law practice with other lawyers. It can be a pain to always watch the clock and tricky to estimate costs to clients. Billing by the hour and watching the clock is easy and safe for the lawyer, but causes clients a whole lot of heartburn. It is not the only way! For some attorneys (like Intellectual Property Attorneys), it can be easier on the client and the attorney to use a flat fee for legal services. If you’re on the fence about how to charge, here are some things to consider in the flat fee vs. hourly fee debate.

The Pros of Flat Fees

Charging flat fees has a lot of pros, and for IP Attorneys, it can make more sense than billing hourly rates.

For one, there’s a matter of tracking time. Who wants to constantly monitor their time for each and every task they perform? It makes the work seem robotic and it’s easy to make a mistake. Forget an email here and a phone call there… those .1 and .2 hours add up eventually.

Flat fees also force you to be more efficient – leaving more time to work on other projects and perhaps end up billing more than you would have.

Time is also not a great indicator of value. After your first hundred trademark registrations (or if you use NameWarden), the time it takes you is not equal to the value you are providing the client. It’s the same for other tasks like portfolio management or monitoring marks.

Let’s move past time and onto client perception. Let’s face it – no one wants to enter into an agreement with no idea of how much the work is going to cost. In your client’s eyes, they are purchasing services, not time. They do not actually care about renting your afternoon. They want you to answer a thorny question or drive a business result. Flat fee pricing makes it easy for a client to know what they are about to spend and it removes the barrier of worrying about time and the uncertainty of cost.

The Pros of Hourly Fees

Hourly fees are how many law firms base their compensation structure. Charging flat fees also means you need to change how you assess promotions, compensation, and bonuses.

In terms of trademark office actions, enforcement, and litigation, it may be hard to asses a flat fee for a process that could go on longer than expected. Can you really calculate all of the time spent meeting, emailing, calling, and researching before the case even happens?

Clients also tend to be more considerate of your time when they know they have to pay for every minute of it. That means less frequent emails, phone calls, and requests – all of which can be time consuming.

Which to choose

The beauty is that it doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can decide to charge flat fees for things like copyright, trademark, and patent registration and then bill hourly for office actions and adversarial matters.  You can your clients which they prefer and figure out what makes the most sense for your practice.

One note: If you decide to go entirely flat fee based, spend the little bit of time it takes to get specific in the scope of each project. This will prevent you from losing your shirt on an indecisive client or a case that blows up.

20 Law Practice Technology Tools to Use Now

Client intake, time tracking, deadlines, filings, defense monitoring… there’s a lot that Law practice managementTrademark Attorneys have to keep track of on a regular basis. It takes serious organization skills to be an effective Trademark lawyer – or does it? It’s the 21st century! Have you done any research on new law practice technology? Tech-savvy attorneys turn to web based tools to help them manage their law practice effectively and efficiently.

Are you harnessing the power of law practice technology to manage your law practice? We rounded up some of the best software systems and online tools to help you better manage your law practice, including (naturally) your trademark matters.

All-in-one software

Law practice technology makes management so much easier with software that integrates things like Quickbooks and calendars, and offers all-in-one solutions. A solid law practice management system will include everything from case management to time tracking, billing, reporting, and accounting. Here are a couple to check out.

Research/Note taking

You don’t always have the luxury of researching and taking notes from your office. These apps come in handy.

  • Evernote is great for web clipping, note taking, and collaborating.
  • Drafts is for easy note taking.
  • Fastcase allows you to perform free legal research on the go.
  • Feedly is a great way to stay on top of important blogs or law news.

Time Tracking

If you have law practice management software, you likely have a way to keep track of your time. But what about on the go when you are away from the office? Here are two standalone timekeeping apps to check out.

Document Management

Do you have one central location for all of your documents? Can that location be accessed from the cloud by yourself and other staff members? We live in a mobile world, your documents need to be accessible to more than just your office computer. Here are some great programs that can help.

  • Dropbox for file sharing, organization, and access from anywhere.
  • Google Drive for managing, sharing and collaborating on documents.
  • GoodReader for reading files from your mobile phone.
  • LogMeIn for grabbing files from your computer on the go.
  • Smokeball integrates with your email and Microsoft Word to help you organize documents and communications.

Trademark Docketing and Defense

Are you keeping track of your marks and meeting your filing deadlines? Don’t rely on your calendar, rely on NameWarden. All your marks and deadlines are in one place and the set-up is a breeze.

Potential Client Management and Client Intake

How do you keep up with potential clients live before they are actual clients?  How do you send out engagement letters, receive electronic signatures on them, and pull a matter from potential to actual?  Lexicata is a targeted service for law firms that is gaining users and fans.

Billing

Do you take online payments or are you still making clients write and mail checks? Here are some great options for taking payments online and managing your accounting.

Let these tools work for you and you’ll save time and money.  What tools do you use? We’d love to hear from you!

 

Trademark Likelihood of Confusion and Crowded Fields – Room for One More?

Likelihood of confusion rejections – 2(d) refusals – are a common type of obstacle for a trademark application.  When the examining attorney finds a similar-looking trademark in the USPTO records, for similar-seeming goods or services, up goes the 2(d) flag. What if there is not just one other user of a similar mark, but many? […]