When starting a small business, you may have designed a logo, brand or symbol to represent your company. You may have registered your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to help ensure no one else will duplicate your brand. Registering a trademark gives you extra protection when it comes to pursuing legal action for infringement. Even though your trademark is registered, however, you still run the risk of having someone else get ahold of your design.
Trademark infringement occurs when an entity uses another company’s mark or a mark that is extremely similar to represent another good or service without the company’s permission. Using the mark may create consumer confusion and cause customers to purchase a product they believed belonged to the original trademark holder. If someone uses your mark, they may confuse your customers into thinking they are actually purchasing your product or your service, when really they are getting something else. This can cause you to lose revenue and may affect your reputation.
As a registered trademark holder, you are responsible for patrolling for the use of your mark or a similar mark. If you find that another company is using your mark, you may pursue civil action for trademark infringement in state and/or federal court. If the company is found guilty of infringement, they may be ordered to stop using the mark immediately. They could also be required to pay back any money that was gained from using the mark without permission, as well as any attorneys fees associated with the case.
This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.