A trademark serves to identify a single source for goods or services, membership in an organization or approval from a quality assurance program. It can be a product name, a brand, a slogan, a color and even a scent. Federal law allows for the protection of trademarks.
What does trademark protection provide?
The scope of the protection can vary widely depending on the strength and fame of a mark. For instance, many brand names are famous marks that are very strong. The length of time that a mark can be protected is indefinite because it is based upon use, but federal registrations have an initial term of 10 years. A mark may be renewed in successive 10-year increments as long as the mark is still in use.
What factors are considered when determining whether a trademark has been infringed?
Whether a trademark has been infringed is most often dependent upon whether a likelihood of confusion has been found. In determining whether there is a likelihood of confusion, courts generally look at factors like the defendant’s intent, similarity in marketing channels, the overall impression of the two marks in question and the similarity of goods or services associated with the marks.
What are my rights if someone infringes my federally registered trademark?
You have the right to bring an infringement action in a federal district court. After a finding of infringement, the court determines the appropriate remedies for the trademark holder. These can include an injunction to stop the infringing or diluting use, damages to cover defendant’s profits or losses sustained by plaintiff and punitive damages in cases of bad faith.
Are there applicable state or common laws?
There are state registries for trademarks, with rights and registration varying by state. Consult an attorney licensed in your state for specific state requirements and benefits.