As experienced intellectual property lawyers, one of the most common questions we get from clients is – what is considered trademark infringement? Trademark infringement is a serious issue that can have legal consequences for businesses, as both the infringed upon and the infringer. It occurs when one party uses a trademark that resembles or is similar to another party’s registered trademark without authorization. Avoiding trademark infringement is crucial as it can result in issues such as customer confusion, revenue loss, and reputational damage.
Fortunately, there are various steps you can take to legally protect your trademark rights. In this post, our seasoned trademark attorneys will explain what trademark infringement is, how it commonly occurs, and what you can do to safeguard your intellectual property from being infringed on or infringing on another IP.
What Is Trademark Infringement?
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) defines trademark infringement as, “the unauthorized use of a trademark or service mark on or in connection with goods and/or services in a manner that is likely to cause confusion, deception, or mistake about the source of the goods and/or services.”
In simpler terms, trademark infringement happens when someone uses a trademark that is suspiciously similar to an existing registered trademark in a way that could confuse customers. This can include using a similar name, slogan, logo, or symbol as a registered trademark.
How Does Trademark Infringement Commonly Occur?
Now that you know what trademark infringement is, let’s learn about some common examples in which trademark infringement can occur.
- Through the use of a similar name or logo by a competitor: This can lead to your customers mistakenly believing that the products/services offered by them are associated with the owner of the registered trademark, i.e., you.
- Through the sale of fake products carrying the registered trademark: These counterfeit products are usually low in quality and can damage the reputation of the actual owner of the trademark.
- Through the use of similar uniforms of another company: This tactic may be used to trick customers into believing that both businesses are related.
In order to protect themselves, businesses need to safeguard their trademarks by taking some necessary steps. If any trademark infringement is found at any point, legal action can be taken against the infringing party. The owner of the registered trademark may file a lawsuit in federal or state court to stop the infringement and pursue damages.
How to Protect Your Business from Trademark Infringement
Protecting trademarks can help businesses maintain their market position, avoid expensive legal battles, safeguard their reputation, and maintain a competitive edge.
#1. Register Your Trademark
Make sure you register your trademark with the USPTO. This will give your business exclusive rights for using the trademark on your products and services within a specified location. However, registering is not enough.
#2. Keep Your Eyes Open
Be on an active lookout for any unauthorized use of your trademark in online and offline marketplaces through regular monitoring. This includes social media, trade publications, fairs, events, and so on. Doing this will ensure no one uses your trademark without your permission.
#3. Enforce Your Rights
If you find that your trademark has been infringed, enforce your legal rights by acting promptly to protect it. You can send a cease-and-desist letter to the infringing party, negotiate a settlement, or sue them.
#4. Contact an Intellectual Property Lawyer
An experienced trademark attorney can be your strongest ally in your fight to protect your business. They can walk you through the complex legal process with proving trademark infringement. They’ll also know exactly which steps can help uphold your business’s best interests.
How a Trademark Attorney Can Help
From explaining what trademark infringement is to providing valuable advice, a good lawyer can be your guiding light. Let’s look at a few ways in which an intellectual property lawyer can be of help to businesses interested in protecting their trademark.
#1. Trademark Search
A trademark attorney can conduct a thorough search to determine if your desired trademark is already in use. This will reduce the risk of infringing on an existing mark.
#2. Trademark Registration
An intellectual property lawyer can help you during trademark registration, ensuring that it is adequately protected and enforced.
#3. Trademark Enforcement
If your trademark is being infringed upon, your attorney can take swift legal action to stop the infringing party and protect your business. They can do this by filing a cease and desist, before you even have to investigate the potential damages.
#4. Trademark Monitoring
Your lawyer can monitor the marketplace for infringements and take action when necessary, ensuring that your trademark is not being infringed upon.
#5. Trademark Portfolio Management
If you have multiple trademarks, a trademark attorney can help you manage your portfolio, ensuring that each mark is properly protected and enforced. This will also help you ensure all trademarks are in use so they don’t lapse with the USPTO.
#6. Trademark Licensing
Your intellectual property lawyer can assist with licensing agreements, allowing your business to profit from its trademarks while maintaining control over their use.
#7. Trademark Litigation
If your trademark is involved in a legal dispute, an attorney can represent your business in court. They’ll work diligently to secure a positive outcome.
Overall, a trademark attorney can safeguard your business at every stage – from search and registration to enforcement and trial. Having a lawyer in your corner will bring you peace of mind and help protect your priceless trademarks from any violation.
Hire an Intellectual Property Attorney You Can Trust
As a responsible business owner, you want to ensure that your business/brand is protected from vested interests. After all, you’ve worked hard to create a unique trademark – something that represents your company. The last thing you want is all that effort going to waste.
At ETB Law, our trademark litigation practice focuses on the protection of our client’s intellectual property rights and includes patents, trademarks, trade secrets, unfair competition, copyrights, and Internet and domain name disputes.
Our intellectual property lawyers represent both companies and individuals, and both plaintiffs and defendants. Reach out to Emerson Thomson Bennett at 330-434-9999 or fill out our online form to get in touch.