Infringement Cases: Trademarks
No matter which side you are on, a trademark infringement case can be a harrowing experience during all steps of the process. Facing legal action or having to take someone to court for infringing on a trademark are both serious circumstances. We are going to give you some general information on how you can best deal with your personal trademark infringement case.
Trademark Infringement Case Summaries
If you look online, you can find quite a few summaries of trademark infringement cases. For example, Harvard has a good list of summaries available.
- Sporty’s Farm, LLC vs. Sportsman’s Market, Inc.
- WorldSport Networks Ltd. v. Artinternet S.A.
- CCBN.com, Inc. v. C-Call.com, Inc.
- Interstellar Starship Services Limited v. Epix, Inc.,
- Jews for Jesus v. Brodsky
- Toys “R” Us, Inc. v. Feinberg and Guns are We
- Juno Online Service v. Juno Lighting, Inc.,
This is not an exhaustive list, but it should give you a good start on learning more about trademark infringement cases and how they have been handles by the courts.
Basics of Trademark Infringement
The first piece of information that you need to know is the definition of a trademark. Simply put, it is a word, symbol, name, or other device, or combination of these that serves to identify the source of goods or services and distinguish them from others. One well known example of a trademark would be McDonald’s ® for restaurants and food and Coca-Cola ® for beverage providers.
Trademarks are primarily used to help prevent confusion in consumers. Trademark laws protect companies when other companies try to use their name (or trademark) to confuse consumers and get sales. Even in good economic times, trademark is taken seriously by many companies. Because of this, it is important for people to know as much about trademark law as they can so that they do not break any of them.
The burden of proof in these cases is on the owner of the trademark to show that a “likelihood of confusion” exists between their trademark and the allegedly infringing mark. Over the years, the courts have come up with a list of elements that can be used to determine if there is a “likelihood of confusion” when it comes to trademarks.
To start with, a comparison of the appearance, commercial impression, meaning and even pronunciation of both marks. This is sometimes referred to as the “sight, sound, and meaning” test for trademark infringement cases.
All About the Purchasers
Another area that is looked at is the people and companies who will be buying products using the marks. For example, people who buy engines or other technically or mechanically sophisticated devices or products will generally be more able to adequately distinguish different trademarks without a lot of confusion. On the other hand, Koka-Kola would be seen by many people as possibly related to the real Coca-Cola brand.
Other Aspects to Consider
There are quite a few other aspects of trademark infringement cases that should be considered, of course, but the information above should give you a good overview of the problems that may arise with trademarks and how they might end up in court – and be ruled on by judges.
It should also be noted that some marks may be able to be used as long as the industry they are used in is different enough. For example, there may be a cab company with the same name as a printing company. Because they are in different areas, consumers are less likely to confuse them as being similar.
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