Take Steps to Protect Your Business from Impostors
We talk a lot about fraud and scams in our industry, with one of the most concerning being the influx of “blow-and-go” contractors. These unscrupulous companies often use bait-and-switch tactics to lure homeowners in with rock-bottom, low-cost offers for “whole-house air duct cleaning” and “HVAC mold and soot removal.” These malicious companies then do an inferior job of cleaning the heating and cooling system. Sometimes, they don’t do any work at all!
We also hear way too many stories of contractors falsely telling homeowners they have mold or other toxic substances in their HVAC systems, often persuading homeowners to pay for costly, unneeded services.
Unfortunately, these dishonest companies make our whole industry look bad.
These impostors don’t stop at cheating homeowners in the ways above. It seems like NADCA hears of a non-member company illegally using the NADCA logo or falsely advertising NADCA membership and/or certification almost every day. Trademark infringement is a problem that has catapulted to new levels. And for you, our members, it’s extremely frustrating to pay membership dues, only to find some rogue company up the street reaping the benefits of the NADCA name without being a member.
It’s an issue that seems overwhelming at times, and it requires constant vigilance, fierce persistence and follow up, and unfortunately, costly legal fees. Nonetheless, NADCA is fully committed to fighting this egregious behavior to protect our members’ investment and reputation.
The following outlines some of the steps NADCA takes to fight trademark infringement, and how you, our members, can help.
Step 1: Report Infringement
Infringement cases are reported by staff, consumers, and members. When you notice that a company is using the NADCA logo or is making a claim of NADCA certification, but you can’t find them listed in our ‘Find a Professional’ directory, please report it!
NADCA has a simple form for reporting trademark infringement at nadca.com/report-trademark-infringement. It is very important that members and consumers utilize this form to submit possible trademark infringement, and complete the information requested. It’s extremely helpful if you can upload images of places you have seen the logo or false claim being made, including online and in print advertising or direct mail.
Step 2: Investigation
NADCA staff reviews every infringement report to confirm that the company using the logo or making false claims is not a NADCA member. In some cases, a company may use a DBA name, which can cause confusion or lead members to believe there is trademark infringement when there isn’t.
Step 3: Cease & Desist Tracking
Once the infringement has been verified, NADCA staff immediately contacts the infringing company with cease and desist communication directing them to remove the logo and/or false claim within 24 hours.
Every infringement case is tracked in a database, so staff can monitor and make note of the cease and desist communications and status of the case. If the offending company fails to remove the logo or the false claim, their information is then provided to NADCA’s attorney for formal cease and desist communication. If the offending company complies, the case is marked as closed.
For websites and online violations, NADCA staff also contacts the web-hosting provider to report violations for companies that do not comply. Web-hosting companies understand it is in their best interest to prohibit trademark infringement, and often reserve the right to take action against websites they host if there is evidence of infringement.
While the number of cases reported continues to increase, so do our efforts to combat the issue, and get these false claims removed from non-member advertising. NADCA goes to great lengths to address violations swiftly and aggressively. From 2014 to 2019, NADCA received 379 reported violations. 93% were successfully closed and violator ceased use of logo or false claim.
In addition to the process outlined above, NADCA’s Anti-Fraud Task Force has established a strategy for providing information to Better Business Bureaus and Consumer Affairs Divisions to help educate them on verifying NADCA membership and educating consumers on avoiding scams within the industry.
NADCA also offers the Yoshki logo verification software to all NADCA members. The verification logo is embedded on a page on your website. Consumers then click on the logo to verify that your company is a NADCA member. This is just one more tool that can be used to help fight trademark infringement and give consumers peace-of-mind.
Finally, NADCA’s Breathing Clean consumer marketing campaign is specifically targeted to residential consumers to help educate them on how to spot scams and things to look for before hiring an air duct cleaning company, including NADCA membership.
Help Us Fight Trademark Infringement
- Report infringement when you see it at https://nadca.com/report-trademark-infringement.
- Visit the “Members Only” section of nadca.com to download the Yoshki logo verification software today.
- Utilize the Breathing Clean campaign collateral to help educate consumers on the importance of hiring a verified NADCA member and the importance of having air ducts cleaned properly.
We appreciate your continued support as we work to protect our members’ investment and the reputation of our association.