Trademark Infringement

Updated on March 21, 2024
Article byShrestha Ghosal
Edited byShrestha Ghosal
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What Is Trademark Infringement?

Trademark infringement is a legal violation where an entity engages in the unauthorized use of a registered trademark. This action may cause confusion, deception, or mistake among consumers. This legal violation occurs when a party uses a trademarked symbol, logo, or name without the owner’s explicit permission.

Trademark Infringement

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The purpose of trademark protection is to safeguard the reputation of a brand. It enables consumers to identify and associate products or services with a particular brand. Infringement activities may take various forms, like outright copying a trademark or using a similar mark with the intent to create confusion.

Key Takeaways

  • Trademark infringement occurs when an entity uses a registered trademark in an unauthorized manner. This legal breach arises when a party utilizes a trademarked emblem, symbol, or title without the owner’s specific authorization.
  • This violation may induce customers to believe that products linked with the infringing mark are connected to the trademark owner.
  • The purpose of the legal system pertaining to this infringement is to preserve the integrity of the market. It aids in empowering customers to make knowledgeable decisions and encouraging fair competition among companies.

Trademark Infringement Explained

Trademark infringement occurs when a party utilizes a registered trademark without the owner’s authorization. The objective of trademark protection is to safeguard the uniqueness of a brand to ensure consumer recognition and trust. Unauthorized use of a trademark can lead to confusion, deception, or mistakes among consumers. Additionally, it compromises the integrity of the original brand.

This unauthorized use can take several forms. It may include copying a trademarked symbol, logo, or name and using a mark that is similar to the trademark. This may mislead consumers into believing that the products or services associated with the infringing mark are somehow affiliated with or endorsed by the legitimate trademark owner. The legal framework surrounding this infringement aims to maintain the integrity of the marketplace. It allows consumers to make informed choices and promotes fair competition among businesses.

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Remedies

Some remedies for trademark infringement include the following:

  • Businesses may send a legal order demanding the infringing party to stop using the trademark in question immediately. The order may prohibit the infringing party from continuing the unauthorized use of the trademark.
  • The trademark owner may demand monetary restitution for proven economic losses resulting from the infringement. They may also demand the recovery of profits gained by the infringing party through the unauthorized use of the trademark.
  • Individuals may resort to processes like mediation or arbitration to resolve disputes outside of traditional court proceedings.
  • Remedies for trademark infringement may include correcting any false or misleading statements associated with the infringing use. In extreme cases of forging or intentional trademark violations, criminal charges may be pursued.
  • In cases involving online infringement, mechanisms like the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) can help address domain name conflicts.

Penalties

The penalties for trademark infringement are:

  • Infringers may be required to pay compensatory damages to the trademark owner to cover economic losses resulting from the infringement. Additionally, courts may order the infringing party to surrender any profits gained through the unauthorized use of the trademark.
  • Some jurisdictions allow for statutory damages that provide a predetermined amount per infringement without the need to prove actual damages.
  • Courts may issue injunctions to prohibit the infringing party from continuing to use the trademark.
  • In cases of counterfeit goods, authorities may seize and destroy infringing products.
  • In severe cases of willful infringement or counterfeiting, criminal charges may be brought against the infringing party. The penalties for trademark infringement may lead to fines or imprisonment. The courts may award higher damages if the infringement is found to be deliberate.
  • In some jurisdictions, the violating party in an infringement case may be entitled to recover legal costs and attorney’s fees.
  • The authorities may order the infringing party to undertake corrective advertising to rectify any false or misleading impressions created by the infringement.
  • If the cases involve cybersquatting or domain name infringement, the court may order the transfer of the infringing domain name to the rightful trademark owner.
  • Authorities may also prohibit the infringing parties from participating in industry events or trade shows.

Examples

Let us study the following examples to understand this infringement:

Example #1

Suppose Jake owns a financial consulting firm, “WealthWise Advisors,” which has successfully established its trademark, distinctive logo, and brand name. Another company, “FinancePro Experts,” enters the market with a strikingly similar logo and name, causing confusion among clients seeking financial advice. As a result, clients might mistakenly believe that FinancePro Experts is affiliated with or endorsed by WealthWise Advisors. This unauthorized use of a similar trademark by FinancePro Experts led to harming WealthWise Advisors’ reputation and caused financial loss. This is a trademark infringement example.

Example #2

According to an announcement from November 3, 2023, the US Federal Reserve has accused Bitcoin Magazine of trademark breaches. The organization was handed a cease-and-desist letter. According to Bitcoin Magazine, it is being targeted because it uses the term “FedNow” on wearables and other accessories. The Federal Reserve’s fast payment system is branded as FedNow. The Fed claimed that it misled readers into thinking there was a connection between the magazine and the organization.

How To Avoid?

The steps to avoid trademark infringement cases are:

  • Before adopting a new trademark, individuals must search thoroughly to ensure that another entity has not already registered it. After choosing a unique and available trademark, they must consider registering it with the appropriate intellectual property office.
  • Individuals must regularly monitor the marketplace for new trademarks and changes in existing trademarks that may pose a risk. They may conduct periodic searches and monitor services to prevent trademark infringement cases.
  • Organizations may consult with a trademark attorney to assess the risk of infringement. Legal professionals can guide the availability and registration of a proposed trademark.
  • When creating a new trademark, companies must steer clear of designs, names, or symbols that closely resemble existing trademarks. If the business operates internationally, it must be aware of trademarks in other countries. It must ensure its chosen mark does not conflict with existing trademarks abroad.
  • Companies must ensure that their employees are aware of the importance of trademark protection and the potential consequences of infringement.

The differences between the two are as follows:

Trademark Infringement

  • This infringement involves the unauthorized use of a registered trademark or a confusingly similar mark in connection with goods or services, which may result in consumer confusion.
  • The critical elements in this case include the similarity of the marks, the relatedness of the goods or services, the strength of the original mark, and the likelihood of consumer confusion.
  • Remedies for the infringement often include cease-and-desist orders, injunctive measures, and monetary compensation.
  • It focuses on protecting the distinctiveness and reputation of a brand to ensure that consumers can identify and trust the source of the products or services associated with a particular mark.
  • Copyright infringement involves the unauthorized use of original works of authorship, such as literary, artistic, or musical works. Copyright protects the expression of ideas.
  • In a copyright infringement case, the key elements include ownership of a valid copyright, copying of the original work, and substantial similarity between the original and the allegedly infringing work.
  • Remedies for copyright infringement may include injunctive relief, statutory damages, and, in some cases, the infringing work’s destruction.
  • It is concerned with protecting the exclusive rights of creators, encouraging the production of original works, and preventing the unauthorized use of creative expressions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How to report trademark infringement?

To report this infringement, individuals must gather evidence of the unauthorized use and contact the infringing party to request they cease using the trademark. If unsuccessful, they must submit a complaint to the appropriate intellectual property platform and provide details of the infringement with supporting evidence.

2. How to prove trademark infringement?

To prove this infringement, individuals may collect evidence displaying their ownership of the trademark, like registration certificates or first-use documentation. They must also document instances of the infringing use, including screenshots, photographs, or product samples. Then, they must establish the similarity between their trademark and the alleged infringing mark by emphasizing the similarities. Additionally, they may demonstrate the relatedness of goods or services to establish the potential for consumer confusion.

3. Is trademark infringement criminal or civil?

This infringement is usually a civil matter addressed through civil litigation in which the trademark owner sues the alleged infringer. The objective is to obtain remedies like injunctions, damages, or the cessation of the infringing activities. However, in some instances, the infringement may lead to criminal charges, especially if the infringement involves counterfeiting or intentional deception. Government authorities pursue criminal enforcement, and penalties may include fines or imprisonment.

This article has been a guide to what is Trademark Infringement. We explain its remedies, penalties, how to avoid it, & comparison with copyright infringement. You may also take a look at the useful articles below –

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