Your business relies on whatever intellectual property it owns in order to thrive. Whether you offer the general public a certain product or beneficial services, you need to protect your assets so that a competing business does not steal them in an attempt to attract your customers. You can protect yourself by registering a trademark. In the event someone uses trademarked material or something that is so similar to your trademark it would be confusing, there are certain avenues you can take to enforce whatever trademarks you own.
How to Reserve a Trademark
As you are in the first stages of starting a business, there might be a certain name you want for the company as a whole or a name for a product you want to offer. Your business might not be off the ground yet, but you can still register for an “intent to use” trademark. This does not give you an actual trademark. It merely states you intend to use the trademark in question in the future and you want to reserve it now. You then have to use the mark between six months and three years to getting your “intent to use” registration. This is a helpful step to take to protect yourself from infringers, because if you eventually have to go to court, then it will show that your “intent to use” trademark dates back further than when you actually put your product on the market.
First Step When You Discover an Infringement on Your Trademark
In the event you discover an infringement has taken place on a trademark you own, the first thing to do is often filing a cease and desist letter. This informs the infringing party they are using your trademark without your written and expressed consent and they need to stop immediately. This is often enough to stop a party, but sometimes, the infringement continues, and if that is the case, then you should consider taking the individual or individuals to court.
Purpose of Going to Court
Many businesses go to court over trademark infringement because they want to put an end to outside use of something they own. It is a way to protect a company’s intellectual property. However, another reason why numerous businesses sue is they want to collect any damages that result from a lack of business. If it can be determined that a party used your trademark and substantially benefited financially from it by drawing away business from you, then you could collect some or all of that revenue.
Evaluating Similarities Between Two Marks
When it comes to trademark infringement cases, the main issue at play is determining whether the accused party’s mark is confusingly similar to another company’s. A few questions will likely need to be asked in order to determine infringement.
- Are the two products in question the same or at least related?
- Do the two marks, when spoken, sound similar?
- Is one of the marks universally recognized?
- Do the two companies sell the same thing to similar demographics?
- What is the likelihood that the general public would be confused by the presence of these two marks?
- Can the infringement be proven to be intentional, or was it inadvertent?
- If the trademark consists of a symbol, do the two symbols look alike?
- How long have the two marks been around?
- How do the two companies go about marketing themselves, and do they utilize similar marketing tactics?
Resources are available to help you receive some form of compensation if you believe someone has infringed on a trademark you own. For the well-being and prosperity of your business, make sure to register for trademarks in a timely fashion, and make sure to protect your trademarks from infringement, tarnishment and unfair competition.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.