Trademark infringement is a serious offense that can lead to severe consequences for the offender. Whether you own a new business or are trying to apply for a trademark, you should be very familiar with trademark infringement and how to avoid it.
Trademark infringement is also important for individuals who have already gone through the trademark approval process. Though your trademark gives you rights, you are responsible for enforcing those rights in court. Therefore, you will need to identify those who have infringed upon your trademark and tackle them in court.
Though trademark infringement is an intimidating situation, it is important to know that you have options for support. Our trademark attorneys can help you with every part of the trademark process, including taking action if someone violates your hard-earned trademark status.
Our team at Four Reasons Legal has been working in trademark and intellectual property law for over 15 years. As a result, we understand the challenges that accompany the trademark process and how to navigate any violations that may occur. As a result, we can keep your business and ideas safe through trademark law.
We have helped hundreds of clients to apply for and enforce their trademarks. However, the process for application is difficult, and there are many different deadlines to meet and fees to pay. You may have to begin again if you are late for any of these. We can help you to avoid these errors and stay on track for trademark application approval.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) oversees all trademark applications and maintains the official trademark database. They define trademark infringement as any time that a trademark is used without authorization in a way that causes confusion about where the goods or services came from. So, for example, you could not name your cheeseburger restaurant “McDonald’s” because customers could easily confuse you with the famous restaurant chain that also serves cheeseburgers.
Industry is very important when it comes to trademark infringement. The farther the industries are from one another, the lower the likelihood of confusion. For example, though you could not name your hamburger restaurant McDonald’s, you would be free to name your hair salon McDonald’s if you wish. This is because hair styling and hamburgers are vastly different, so there is a much lower likelihood that the public will confuse you with the chain of burger restaurants.
The company name is not the only aspect that you must consider. A company can also trademark its logo, meaning that you cannot use a logo similar to one with an existing trademark. This is the case even if you are in vastly different industries. To continue the above example, you may be able to name your hair salon “McDonald’s,” but you could not use the famous golden arches (or a similar design) as your hair salon’s logo. Customers would likely confuse your logo with the hamburger restaurant, regardless of what industry you are in. This confusion is exactly what the USPTO outlines as trademark infringement.
Whether you have committed an infringement or are taking action against infringement on your trademark, it is important to know what consequences and penalties the law outlines.
The first step will be to write a cease and desist letter to the offending company or individual. Many times, a trademark infringement offense is simply a mistake, and the offending parties stop using the protected name, logo, or other protected entity as their own.
If the offender does not stop, the company or person with the legitimate trademark (the prosecution) can bring the trademark violator (defense) to court. The prosecution will request an injunction. This is when the court orders the defendant to stop using the protected trademark. The defense may also have to pay for any lost business or profits resulting from their illegal trademark use.
A: Use, in commerce, and the likelihood of confusion. The first, use, means that someone used a word, phrase, logo, etc., that had already been protected. In commerce means that the infringer used the trademarked item in a business setting. Finally, the likelihood of confusion encompasses whether or not the illegal use of the trademark caused public confusion with the legitimate owner of the trademark.
A: One instance would be if a company in the same industry tried to use the same name as a trademarked company. For example, if someone opened a taco restaurant called Taco Bell, they would be infringing upon the chain restaurant’s trademark. Another instance would be if someone tried to use a trademarked logo for their own business in any industry. For example, if someone used the Nike swoosh for their grocery store logo.
A: Two defenses to trademark infringement are fair use and parody. Fair use means that someone used the trademarked word or phrase as it was intended, not to confuse anyone. For example, if a cereal is listed as being “all bran,” it is not considered an infringement on the Kellogg Cereal named “All Bran.”
A: All trademark attorneys have different rates, so it is difficult to say how much one may charge. However, you will likely save time and money by hiring the help of a qualified trademark attorney. We can help to ensure that you do not have to redo your application and can easily enforce your trademark if you have to. Hiring a trademark attorney is an asset that is highly recommended for all businesses.
For over 15 years, our team at Four Reasons Legal has been helping businesses apply for, obtain, enforce, and renew trademarks. As a result, we have a deep understanding of the process both in Colorado and at the federal level, and we can help you create scalable protections for your business that fit your goals.
For more information about our Colorado trademark law services or the other intellectual property, we can help protect, contact Four Reasons Legal online today.