We want to start, proudly but firmly, by setting the record straight (hey, Canon, are you listening): !nk Tank and The Ink Tank are registered trademarks of The Ink Tank Inc. We’ve been in business with this name since 1984. So why start a blog post like this? Trademark infringement is rampant, and it’s important for you to take a stand, especially if you’ve discovered what we have … that other businesses, who come along later, simply decide to use a name and a brand that you create—regardless of how long established, or obvious—that fact is.
Whatever happened to due diligence, or things like imagination or creativity? How do businesses that profess to be professional in their communications manage to overlook this in their so-called research and simply start using the name?
Our story could become your story; and you don’t want that to happen.
Recently, we had to take legal action against a Toronto-based design and communications firm. Amazing–this company is not only in our own city; it’s on the same main thoroughfare, albeit more west than east. The folks there “thought it was a great name” to use for their blog. Indeed it is. It’s a name we’ve built our business on for 26 years. Now we’re considering whether to expend the resources, and money, to call out both Canon (yes, ‘the’ Canon), and an illustrator—both U.S.-based—who are capitalizing on our name.
The most basic courtesies and business practices go down the tubes when people either don’t do any homework, don’t do enough homework, or worse; decide after doing their homework that they’ll use (is this the same as theft?) someone else’s hard earned brand and name.
Should we be so vocal, or so picky? In a word: yes. And so should you. Think of the original ideas, sweat equity, money, and hard work required not just to come up with a great business name, but to build that name and brand over the years. That is, after all, what branding is all about.
We’d love to hear your comments on this issue, and will respond to them in the same public forum and spirit in which we wrote this, our first official !nk tank blog post.