How to Prevent Trademark Infringement and Protect Your Brand
When setting up a business or brand, one of the first things that many people focus on is their business name, slogan, or logo. However, it’s very important to choose carefully and make sure the name and logo you choose are truly unique. Otherwise, you could be accused of trademark infringement. But what is trademark infringement, and how can you avoid it? Read on to find out.
What Is Trademark Infringement?
So, how does trademark or brand infringement work and what are some elements of trademark infringement to watch out for? Well, in order to understand what trademark infringement is, we first need to know what a trademark is; a trademark is a sign of some kind, usually a brand’s name or logo, that has been registered with that business and its products or services.
In other words, a trademark is a sign or symbol that a business uses to identify itself and its products to the world. It’s a piece of intellectual property or IP, and it’s protected by law. Some big trademark examples include the Coca-Cola logo, the Target symbol, or the Nike ‘swoosh’; these are all examples of symbols and signs that these big brands use and have ownership of.
When we talk about trademark infringement, this refers to situations where a person or business uses either a direct copy of the name, logo or another trademark of an existing business or uses one that is very close to it, so that the two are hard to tell apart and could cause confusion for customers.
What Are Some Trademark Infringement Examples?
There have been many famous cases of brand infringement over the years. Here are a few classic trademark infringement examples:
- WWF – The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) took legal action against the World Wrestling Federation in a long legal battle which eventually ended with the wrestling company changing its acronym to WWE.
- Apple – The music company Apple Corps took action against Apple Computer for using ‘Apple’ in its name.
- Starbucks – Coffee giant Starbucks has taken action against several small businesses for copying parts of its branding, like coffee shops called HaiaBucks and Sambucks.
How Does Trademark Infringement Occur?
There are various ways in which trademark infringement may happen, but it all begins with one company officially registering its brand name, logo, or other symbols as a trademark. Once it has done that, the brand has the legal right to protect its trademarks and take legal action against anyone it deems to be infringing on those trademarks.
So, if another business owner comes along and tries to use a name, slogan, or logo that is too similar, the registered trademark holder can decide to take action. Sometimes, this happens completely accidentally, as the new business owner might simply not be aware of the pre-existing brand. In other cases, it can be an intentional choice to try to confuse customers and get more attention.
Once the trademark holder begins legal proceedings, the case can proceed in various ways. Sometimes, the holder will simply send a ‘cease and desist’ notice to the new business and ask them to stop using the offending brand name or logo.
If the business refuses, the case can go further, potentially all the way to federal court, which can lead to a range of consequences, like the defendant’s business shutting down, rebranding, having to pay damages, and so on.
Steps to Avoid Accidental Trademark Infringement
As explained above, it’s quite common for brand or copyright infringement to occur accidentally. Someone might inadvertently begin the unauthorized use of a trademark without realizing that it’s already owned and in use by another business, and you could find yourself facing a trademark infringement claim completely out of nowhere. Here are some steps to avoid this.
Conduct a Trademark Search
The first thing you should do before officially registering your business or starting any trademark registration is to carry out an online search to see if any other businesses are using names or logos similar to yours. There are various free search tools online you can use to do this.
Devise a Truly Unique Brand
One of the most common elements of trademark infringement is when a brand name or logo is just too similar to something that already exists. To avoid any risks of legal action, make sure that your brand is 100% unique, with a truly one-of-a-kind name and slogan.
Register Your Trademark
Once you’ve decided on a unique name and symbol for your brand, make sure to register them. This will give you ownership and protective rights over those parts of your brand, and you’ll be able to defend your business in the future if anyone else tries to copy you.
Consider Hiring a Trademark Attorney
You may also want to consider bringing in a trademark attorney. They can help in various ways, such as making it easier for you to avoid trademark infringement when making a new business or advising you on what to do if you feel your trademark has been infringed by someone else.
Think About Insurance
If you get sued or have to take legal action against someone else for trademark infringement, there could be a lot of legal costs involved. Having some general liability insurance for your business will help you cover those unexpected expenses and provide some crucial peace of mind.
Consider a Proper Rebranding if Needed
In some cases, if your brand’s name or logo is just too similar to another business and could cause confusion for customers, the best thing to do might simply be to admit defeat and rebrand. This may work out a lot cheaper and easier for you in the long run, especially when compared to the possible damages you might have to pay if you lose a legal case.
How Can Polymer Fusion Technology Affect Trademark Infringement?
Polymer fusion technology is a modern labeling method that can create truly permanent labels that fuse directly to plastic products. It involves the use of merging two separate polyolefin thermoplastic polymers together to create one singular piece of plastic with the label bonded directly to it. This unique labeling method can help in regard to trademark infringement.
Specifically, polymer fusion brand labels can be used to clearly mark your brand’s logo and name on the products you make. And since the label is permanently affixed to the plastic, there’s no risk of it simply being peeled off or replaced with anything else. What’s more, this unique branding method can’t simply be copied, as it involves specialized equipment.
What this means for brands is that it becomes far harder for anyone to try and copy your products or imitate your brand. Polymer fusion anti-counterfeit labels can help to distinguish your products from any copycats or imitators, making your brand a much harder target for any unscrupulous businesses all around the world.
In addition, by investing in polymer fusion labeling and fixing permanent labels for your products, you’ll be able to make more people aware of your brand’s logo, slogan, and other imagery. This should help to reduce the risk of any entrepreneurs accidentally or inadvertently copying your brand’s trademarks. Contact us to learn more about how this labeling method works.