If someone is using your business name, you can sue them for infringement of trademark. Before you rush to hire a business lawyer, you need to know some basic facts about trademarks. The following is a brief look at trademarks.
Definition of a Trademark
A trademark is a sign you can use in order to distinguish the goods or services of your business from the goods or services of other businesses. Registering a trademark enables you to protect your mark or brand by preventing others from using it. A trade mark lasts indefinitely provided you renew it after a few years—in most jurisdictions; the renewal period is after every 10 years.
Trade Mark Classification
The following are common examples of marks that you can register as trademarks. You can use them individually or a combination.
The following are examples of those marks that are not acceptable as registered trademarks:
- Descriptive marks e.g. best, super, cheap
- Common marks or marks that have been widely accepted in your trade and do not clearly distinguish what you are offering
- Marks that are capable of causing confusion or resemble earlier marks or are similar to popular marks
- Deceptive marks that misrepresent the quality, nature or geographical origin of your goods and services
- Marks that are capable of promoting immoral behavior
When Can You Stop Someone From Trademark Infringement?
- The dual use of a trademark is capable of confusing consumers
- The trademark is applied on competing goods/services—if the sale of a particular good or service affects the sale of the other, then they are said to be competing
- The trademark is used on goods that are related, such as goods that are bound to get noticed by customers even though they are not competing with each other
How Do You Stop Someone from the Use of Your Trademark?
Send a letter known as 'cease and desist note' to the infringer (wrong doer), asking them to stop using your trademark. If the person continues using your mark, you can go ahead and file a law suit preventing the improper use.
Damages for Infringement of Trademark
If you are able to prove in court that the use of your trademark is capable of confusing consumers and that your business suffered economically resulting from the use of your mark, the infringer may be asked to pay money damages due to the loss.
If the court determines that the infringer knew about your trademark and intentionally copied it, he/she may be asked to refund the profits made from using the mark and to also pay other damages such as fines or attorney fees. Learn more about this process by talking to experts such as Rae & Partners.