trademark vigilance, trademark, trademarks, Internet


The trademark laws impose a duty upon brand owners to be vigilant in policing their marks, lest they be subject to the defense of laches, a reduced scope of protection, or even death by genericide. Before the millennium, it was relatively manageable for brand owners to police the retail marketplace for infringements and counterfeits. The Internet changed everything.

In ways unforeseen, the Internet has unleashed a tremendously damaging cataclysm upon brands—online counterfeiting. It has created a virtual pipeline directly from factories in China to the American consumer shopping from home or work. The very online platforms that make Internet shopping so convenient, and that have enabled brands to expand their sales, have exposed buyers to unwittingly purchasing fake goods which can jeopardize their health and safety as well as brand reputation.

This Article updates a 1999 panel discussion titled Trademark Vigilance in the Twenty-First Century, held at Fordham Law School, and explains all the ways in which vigilance has changed since the Internet has become an inescapable feature of everyday life. It provides trademark owners with a road map for monitoring brand abuse online and solutions for taking action against infringers, counterfeiters and others who threaten to undermine brand value.