There may come a time in your business when you discover that someone else is infringing upon your intellectual property, such as using your registered trademark. While the other party may indeed be in the wrong, enforcing your rights is solely up to you.
If you believe that another person or business is infringing on your rights, you should take the following steps to protect your business and/or brand.
- Is it REALLY infringement?
You may be surprised to learn that someone else can use a trademarked name or logo similar to yours in commerce, so long as it’s not on a competing good or service, and that customers aren’t likely to confuse that business with yours. With so many company names, logos, and taglines out there, it’s possible that the trademark you have registered is not entirely unique. So, before you spend a ton of time and money going after someone for infringement, you may want to ask a trademark lawyer if you really have a legal case to pursue.
If the mark is in your area of goods and services, one question may be who was the first to use the trademark? Even if you had never previously heard of this user, it does not mean that this potential infringer adopted it after you. It is important to research all the facts to determine if there is a case of infringement.
- Send a Cease and Desist Letter
Sending a Cease and Desist letter is an important step you can take in defending your mark. This letter is used to make the other party aware of their infringement and demand that they take a certain action upon receipt of the letter (e.g. stop using the trademark, remove web pages from online, etc.). The ultimate goal is to enforce your rights and stop the problem before moving on to more time-consuming and costlier legal remedies. While you can write a Cease and Desist letter on your own, the other party will likely take the letter most seriously if received from an attorney. An attorney can also help you draft an effective letter that asserts your rights on legally solid ground, while making clear demands that would result in a settlement that’s in your best interest.
- Pursue Litigation
If your Cease and Desist letter is ignored by the other party, or if they flat out refuse to meet your demands laid forth in the letter, you can sue to protect your rights. You will have an easier time enforcing your trademark rights in court if you’ve taken the time to register your mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. If you’ve not registered your mark, you may have common law rights that arise from using your mark in commerce earlier than another party, but this is often difficult to prove and may weaken your case. As a general rule, if you plan to enforce your marks, be sure to register them so that you are afforded the most legal protection in court if, and when, the time comes.
If you believe that someone is improperly using your trademark and you’d like to learn your options to remedy the situation in the fastest and most cost-effective way possible, we invite you to contact our trademark attorneys to schedule a consultation. Simply call us at 888-666-0062. Mention this blog and we’ll waive our normal consultation fee.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.
Law Office of Jason H. Rosenblum, PLLC © 2018 All rights reserved.