krsto-jevtic-g4Ry1F4AZ5Q-unsplashGiven that the current moment we're living through, in which the coronavirus dominates every aspect of our lives, has been both recent and sudden and also seemingly eternal, it's both shocking and not at all surprising to see the amount of COVID-19 -related malfeasance and opportunism that has been unearthed. Bad actors are to be expected, even in a crisis (or perhaps especially in a crisis) but the speed with which the trademark applicants and patent trolls have made their plays would be impressive were it not so depressing.

Nor have we likely hit the nadir of the issue. Ann Fort and Cameron Murphy write for Law360 of the likely coming trademark scams that consumers should be weary of. These aren't trademark scams of the relatively benign nature like the people trying to trademark "coronavirus" or "COVID-19" or other terms related to the disease; these scams are more insidious, with con artists and the like posing as trusted companies and known entities to get consumers to provide private information by impersonating those companies over email or on the web. Fort and Murphy cite examples of phishing attempts from scammers posing as local hospitals or the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), preying off of people's need to stay informed to get them to click links or provide information they wouldn't otherwise.

There's also the possibility that the scamming calls are coming from inside the house, so to speak; Fort and Murphy highlight that the most effective phishing efforts may be emails that appear to be from your own organization, offering updates on company coronavirus policies. If hackers and scammers are able to hijack your brand, you're facing the possibility of lost revenue and lost trust from customers, so it's something for companies to be aware of at every level.

There are of course remedies against such actions, legal and otherwise, but even if you're able to stop scams that use your branding, the damage is already done. And that's to say nothing of the damage to those who are victims of the scams and the challenges of having to try and deal with the damage of identity theft and everything else that comes with compromised private information. The watchword is caution, for businesses and individuals alike; we'll hopefully make it through this, but there are plenty of obstacles ahead, IP-related and otherwise.