Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law

Universities aggressively prosecuting their trademarks

New Jersey residents may have heard about businesses that aggressively protect their trademarks. In addition to companies, many universities are now likewise aggressively prosecuting their trademarks against potential infringement.

According to ABC, dozens of individuals across the U.S. are threatened with potential legal action by big universities for inadvertent infringements on their trademarks. For example, a vineyard in California that wanted to trademark its name as Duke's Folly after the last name of the owners was blocked by Duke University. The university claimed that the use of the name by the winery could lead to confusion. While the owners disagreed, they settled the case by renaming their trademark as Dukes' Folly rather than engaging in litigation.

Duke University is not alone in its aggressive trademark prosecution. North Carolina State University's team is called the Wolfpack. In 2017, it went after a brewing company for calling its wolf-themed beers a wolf pack. Through settlement negotiations, the university agreed that the brewing company could continue calling its variety packs of beer a wolf pack but could not use the term for a specific line of beer.

While the aggressive prosecution of trademarks by the universities may seem to be excessive, owners have a strong interest in trademark enforcement. The intellectual property of a company is important because it can be worth millions of dollars. If another company begins using an existing trademark, it can result in the confusion of potential customers and lost business. Companies that discover that their trademarks have been infringed by others might want to get help from experienced intellectual property lawyers to enforce them.

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Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law - Intellectual Property

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