You may have a trademark that is being confused by a newer, similar trademark and you want to protect your rights to exclusively use your trademark. Or you may have adopted a trademark and are now being accused of copying an already-existing one. Either of these situations could lead to a trademark infringement lawsuit. It is important to understand what constitutes trademark infringement and what factors courts will look at in such cases.
What constitutes trademark infringement?
In order to prove trademark infringement, the plaintiff must show that its own trademark is valid, that its trademark rights have priority over the defendant’s and that the defendant’s trademark is likely to cause people to become confused regarding the source of the products or services at issue. If the plaintiff’s trademark is federally registered, it is presumed to be valid and the plaintiff is presumed to have exclusive usage rights over the trademark. However, this presumption is rebuttable.
What factors will courts consider when determining the likelihood of confusion?
There are a variety of factors courts will consider when determining the likelihood of confusion. One factor is how similar the two trademarks are. Another factor is how alike the parties’ products or services are that a consumer would mistakenly assume based on the trademarks at issue that the products or services come from the same source.
How the products or services at issue are advertised, marketed and sold may also be considered. How the products or services are purchased may also be considered. Another factor is the range of persons who would potentially buy the products or use the services.
If there is actual evidence that people are being confused by the defendant’s trademark, this may also be considered. Whether the defendant intended to cause confusion or copy the plaintiff’s trademark may also be considered. Finally, courts may considered how strong the plaintiff’s trademark is.
Seek help with trademark infringement lawsuits
Ultimately, trademark infringement claims — whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant — are complex cases. This post does not contain legal advice and cannot promise any specific outcome in a legal proceeding. Therefore, those in Morris County who are involved in a trademark infringement claim will want to seek the advice needed to understand their rights and options.