Your company registered a trademark in order to protect your business and its reputation. You chose your company name and crafted a logo to speak to your customers. You worked hard to set yourself apart from the market.
If a competitor uses your branding without permission or uses very similar branding, however, it can do serious damage to your business and brand. If another person or company infringes on your trademark, what can you do to protect your intellectual property?
Carefully consider the particulars before taking legal action.
Trademark protection is designed to prevent competing businesses from using very similar branding and confusing consumers in the process. This means that, in order to prove trademark infringement, you will need to illustrate:
- The business using a similar name or branding is a competitor
- The other business is within your geographic region
- Consumers may confuse your business with the other company
As Entrepreneur notes, though, the increasingly digital way that consumers shop means that geographic location is often less important in today’s market. While customers in years past would probably not have mistaken one business for another if they were in different states, it may be easy for them to confuse your online presence with that of another business. This can lead to a wider variety of trademark infringement issues.
Send a cease-and-desist letter.
The first step in many trademark issues is a cease-and-desist letter demanding that the other business stop using your intellectual property. It can often help to work with an attorney to create this letter so that it sets the right tone. For some competing businesses, this letter might be enough to get the competing company to cease their use of your trademark.
Consider taking legal action.
If, after a cease-and-desist letter, the competing company continues to use your branding, you may be able to take legal action against them. In addition to proving trademark infringement in court, you will also need to illustrate that your right to the trademark predates the other company’s claim to it.
A successful lawsuit can lead to a variety of potential penalties for the infringing party, including:
- A court order for the other business to cease using your branding and potentially destroy any items branded with the infringement
- Monetary damages, including profits lost due to the infringement
- Court fees
When your place in the market is threatened due to trademark infringement, consider speaking to an experienced intellectual property attorney. They can help you craft a compelling cease-and-desist order and build a case that protects your business, its profits and its place in the market.