If you are starting your own business, it is crucial that you gain a clear understanding of the legal use of trademark and the dangers of trademark infringement. Infringement cases can be expensive and time-consuming, particularly for a small business. This article is meant to guide you through the basics of trademark infringement and how to avoid it.
The Likelihood of Confusion Test
In determining whether your mark infringes upon another company’s registered trademark, the most important consideration is the "likelihood of confusion" test, The likelihood of confusion test takes into consideration the similarities between the goods or services being offered by the company and the similarity between the trademarks to determine areas of overlap. You want to make certain that a consumer would not confuse your product for another company’s product in the marketplace.
In some cases, companies with the same name but operating in different industries will be able to keep their brand trademark. For example, the brand name “Delta” refers to an airline, an insurance company, and a faucet manufacturer. However, because of the significant differences between the industries in which these companies operate, it’s unlikely that a consumer will be confused and think that Delta Airlines is selling them a bathroom faucet.
Commit to a Trademark Availability Search
One of the first steps in trying to avoid trademark infringement as a new business is to conduct a trademark availability search. A trademark lawyer can help you with this process. They will review your marketplace and assess which trademarks are being used, and how these trademarks might affect your ability to use your company’s own trademark. Once they’ve completed their research, they will advise you whether you face the risk of trademark infringement claims from other businesses.
Protect Your Trademark
Once it has been confirmed that your trademark does not infringe on those of any other company in your industry, you can then take action to protect it for the future and mitigate future instances of infringement. While each state offer trademark registration, federal registeration is generally preferred because it will protect your mark nationally. If you are considering a trademark for the protection of your business and/or logo, more information may be found in the free download below or by scheduling a free consultation with The Bowen Law Group.