How to Know if Your Trademark or Copyright Has Been Violated

June 30, 2016 | Charles Bowen

Copyright-uncertain.svg.pngWhether you own a small business or a large multinational corporation, when your company is the subject of copyright infringement, it is critical that you are proactive in analyzing your legal options and protecting your rights under the law. However, it’s not always simple to determine when a trademark or copyright status has been violated by another party. The purpose of this article is to highlight how a business can determine if their trademark or copyright has been violated.


Similarity of the Mark

When determining the similarities between two trademarks, the marks must be compared in terms of appearance, sound, connotation and commercial expression. Often, the company adopting the mark for use within their organization (the junior user) can be found to be in violation of trademark law even when their trademark is mostly unique.

For example, the owners of the trademarked name “Maternally Yours” were found to have a similar trademark to the existing company “Your Maternity Shop” and therefore in violation of trademark law. This constitutes a violation because a shopper might believe they’re buying from one store when they’re actually buying from a different store.


Similarity of Goods

Similarity of goods is a foremost consideration when analyzing any form of trademark violation claim. If the ordinary prudent buyer would be likely to mistakenly purchase an item while believing they are buying a completely different item, then the law says the junior user has committed a trademark violation.


Copyright Laws Evolving

With the introduction of the internet, copyright law has become an increasingly complex area. Generally, a copyright holder can assume their copyright has been violated if another party has engaged in the following actions without their permission:

  • Reproduced their work
  • Displayed copyrighted work publicly
  • Distributed copies of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership
  • Prepared derivative works based upon the work
  • Performed copyrighted work publicly

However, the law does provide for the fair use of copyrighted works with specific restrictions. This means that copyright holders must examine their case carefully and determine the current law regarding their case to analyze whether their copyright has been violated.

By working with trusted legal experts, both trademark holders and copyright holders can ensure their rights are protected and potential violations are investigated. Our experienced legal team is available to help you examine your case and provide a trusted legal resource.

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Topics: Copyright Law