Trademark Surveys: Combining Research and Law

trademark-infringementTrademark confusion surveys bring together both of my passions – research & law. In the world of Intellectual Property, many companies are now ensuring that their trademarks are not confused with competitors.

In recent years, the courts in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom have seen a drastic increase in the number of cases where surveys have been accepted in trademark infringement and passing off cases. The use of research in trademark litigation has become prevalent even in the Caribbean. Two years ago, Balcostics Limited concluded a confusion survey where respondents provided answers to different questions relating to their perception as to whether they believed two marks (shown on the questionnaire) were owned by the same or different companies. Respondents were then asked to explain why they made a particular selection and to state the name of the company (ies) they thought owned both marks and or each mark.

Ensuring that the survey is conducted in the perfect environment is key when conducting a survey for use in litigation proceedings because trademark surveys often determine the outcome of trademark litigation. Courts look to specific indicia of reliability regarding how a trademark survey was conducted and performed. These indicia include:

  • Whether a sufficient number of individuals were surveyed,
  • Whether specific controls were created to measure if any portion of the survey was confusing in itself,
  • Whether the questions were leading or followed a proper format, and
  • If a specific percentage of survey respondents were called to verify the accuracy of their answers. A substantial amount of case law exists which provides insight into how to conduct and prepare a trademark survey that will be admissible in court.

5 Key Points in Conducting a Confusion Survey:

1.Ensure that the proper universe is selected. You have to ensure that the types of consumers questioned in the survey are from the proper universe. Identification and selection of a proper universe are recognized as critical elements in a survey. It makes no sense to interview the wrong persons as your results will be irrelevant.

2. Persons conducting the survey are recognized experts. The careful hiring of a trademark expert is one of the most important decisions made during a trademark dispute. Well… *cough* that is where Balcostics Research comes in.

3. The sample design, questionnaire and interviewing should be in accordance with generally accepted standards of research procedure and statistics.

4. Sample design and interviews are conducted independently of the Attorneys in the matter.

5. Interviewers trained in the field have no knowledge of the litigation or purposes for which survey is being used. This point was discussed in the case of TOYS “R” US, INC., Plaintiff,v.CANARSIE KIDDIE SHOP, INC.,[1983]

 

Written by: Abi-Gaye White-Thomas (Mrs.)
Attorney-at-Law and Researcher
law@balcostics.com

 

At Balcostics our mission is to empower leaders with the required data and information to make better decisions. Learn more about our full list of research outsourcing services for individuals and companies: Click here

 

Conducting Qualitative Research across Jamaica: Highlights

Team Balcostics recently concluded a qualitative research (Focus Groups & Qualitative Surveys) project involving youths, small and large scale farmers across 9 parishes in Jamaica. The following are some lessons  learnt:

  • Scheduling & organizing participants – give participants at least one week notice to prepare and adjust their schedule.
  • Logistics – Some of the target groups were located in deep rural communities and finding the specific Focus Group venue proved challenging. Be cognizant of additional time for wrong turns (transportation) 🙂
  • Provide Refreshments – It’s a great way to make participants comfortable and they will likely share more information with you.

Here are some highlights from our numerous trips:

 

At Balcostics our mission is to empower leaders with the required data and information to make better decisions. Learn more about our full list of research outsourcing services for individuals and companies: Click here

 

 

6 steps to executing a successful Focus Group

During my final year at university, I conducted my first focus group. What seemed like a daunting task, was a success due to adequate preparation. Today, I would like to share some best practices on how to effectively execute your first focus group.

Focus groups are a form of qualitative research that basically explores different subjects, perceptions, opinions, beliefs, attitudes, etc. through a guided conversation in an interactive group setting. The following highlights six steps on how to effectively execute a focus group:

1. Organize,and plan. Don’t do things at the last minute.

2. Recruit and screen the right people, with the right characteristics, and the right knowledge. Ensure that you contact your participants to ensure that the time and place for the focus group is confirmed.

3. Know your subject but be neutral and unbiased in your conversation. Don’t assume you understand what someone means; if it’s unclear at all, ask for clarification. EVERY STATEMENT IS IMPORTANT!

4. Encourage participation by all the attendees, don’t let one person dominate the conversation or someone sit in the background without a comment. Some people are more comfortable in settings like this than others; don’t let that one person run over everyone else in the conversation.

5. Keep things moving. Focus groups encourage a natural flow of topics; don’t move through the focus group topics abruptly, too slowly or quickly.

6. Check all equipment prior! Ensure that your recording devise is functional. It is impossible to write all the comments from the session verbatim without a recorder.

Contributor: Abi-Gaye White,

Legal and Corporate Communications Manager, Balcostics Ltd. 

Use Research Questions to focus: Research Tips

A research question is a clear, focused, concise and arguable question around which you center your research project. You should ask a question about an issue that you are genuinely curious about. For example, What impact (if any) will a $100 increase have on customers willingness to purchase my product?

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Good Research Questions bring focus
Research questions help decision makers focus their inquiry by providing a clear framework within which the research project will be executed. The specificity of a well-developed research question will go a far way in clarifying the scope of the research project to all stakeholders.

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Balcostics: 2013 Year in Review

It was Sir Richard who said “Screw it, Let’s do it!” and this was certainly our theme at Balcostics for 2013 as the company experienced many successes and stayed focus to our mission of empowering leaders (from all walks of life) to use information for better decision making.

Our Client base

Our client base continues to grow both locally and internationally as we push to become a global brand for research outsourcing, data analysis, data visualization/ presentation, data gathering and surveys. See list with portfolio of major clients to date.

Our Team

With a growing team of young, tech-savvy Analysts, Researchers, Project Managers and Interviewers, we have built a family passionate about research and providing value for money. We spent 2013 across the island visiting malls, tourist attraction areas and even in the hills of a few rural districts.

NCB SMEs Conference/ Jamaica SMEs Survey 2013

During the period June 21st through June 23rd , Balcostics Ltd in partnership with the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) conducted a survey of Jamaican SMEs who were in attendance at the “NCB/ IDB SME Conference.” The conference was held over a three day period at the Hilton Resort and Spa in Montego Bay. Approximately 130 operators of Small & Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) were in attendance. From this conference, we published the Jamaica SMEs Survey Report 2013

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Mandeville Office Opening

On August 16, 2013 we opened our head office in  Mandeville (Unit #7, Q-Villa Plaza, 5-7 Villa Road). This was truly a special occasion for us, as we also celebrated our second year in business.

Mogul in the Making Nomination

Balcostics Limited was nominated in the Jamaica Observer’s Mogul in the Making programme 2013. This awards ceremony was held on July 10.

 

WeXchange Pitch Conference

We were elated to be told that “Balcostics is INVESTMENT READY” when we participated in this Conference as the only Caribbean-based company. This was organized by the MIF in collaboration with NXTPLabs and Ellas. WeXchange was an event for entrepreneurs, investors and professionals seed capital and angel investors to exchange ideas, explore opportunities and strengthen ties in the region.

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Balcostics Among 12 Finalists for Caribbean & Latin America Investor Pitch Competition

We are happy to announce that Balcostics Limited has been selected as one of 12 finalists in the Caribbean and Latin America Investor pitch competition. Learn more about the other finalists here

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Two companies will be selected to attend the WeXchange Conference to complete a second round of pitching. This event is hosted by FOMIN in partnership with Ellas² and NXTPLabs and will be held in Miami in December.

We pray for God’s guidance and do keep us in your prayers as we continue on this quest to change the status quo relating to information & decision making across the Caribbean.

Balcostics’ Office Opening in Mandeville

On August 16, 2013 we opened our head office in  Mandeville (Unit #7, Q-Villa Plaza, 5-7 Villa Road). This was truly a special occasion for us here at Balcostics as we also celebrated our second year in business.

We would like to thank all the persons who assisted with this relocation and those who attended our opening. We believe that this initiative is a timely one, as we continue to grow and get better.

Should you be in Kingston and want to deliver questionnaires or other packages to us,you can still do so at TIC, UTech.

See highlights of our office opening below:

 

At Balcostics our mission is to empower decision makers with the required data and information to make better decisions. Learn more about our full list of research outsourcing services for individuals and companies: Click here

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Jamaica SMEs Survey 2013

Balcostics Ltd in partnership with the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) conducted a survey of Jamaican SMEs who were in attendance at the recently held “NCB/ IDB SME Conference” sponsored by the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica (NCB), and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).  The conference was held over a three day weekend (June 21st -23rd,2013), at the Hilton Resort and Spa in Montego Bay.

The survey provide answers to the following questions:

  1. Who are Jamaica’s rising SMEs? (age, gender, education level, years in operation)
  2. What are the main challenges facing SMEs?
  3. What are the main reasons persons’ choose entrepreneurship?
  4. What type of social media, if any, are entrepreneurs using in their businesses?

Jamaica SME Challenges

Download a copy of the full report highlights: click here

Jamaica SMEs Survey download

 

At Balcostics our mission is to empower leaders with the required data and information to make better decisions. Learn more about our full list of research outsourcing services for individuals and companies: Click here