Trademark infringement occurs when there is a violation of the exclusive rights attached to a trademark without the owner's authorization.
What is a trademark?
A trademark is a recognizable design, sign or expression that stands for a product or service. The owner can be a person, business, organization or another legal entity. Trademarks are often located on packages or labels for products, but they can also be displayed on buildings and many other locations.
What is a trademark infringement?
If you, as a business owner, use a symbol or sign that has been trademarked without first seeking permission from the owner of the trademark, you are infringing upon that trademark. This is something that occurs frequently and often, nothing comes of the infringement. However, it is not a good idea to infringe on a trademark because there are consequences that can come about from it.
What are the consequences of trademark infringement?
There are many consequences that can result from trademark infringement. First, the company who owns the trademark can seek monetary reimbursement from losses they may have incurred due to illegal use of the trademark. Second, the owner can file an injunction that requires you to stop using the trademark and anything you have produced that carries it. Third, the goods or items that hold the unauthorized sign or symbol can be seized and destroyed.
Any of these consequences can severely hurt a small business. Fees and fines that come up often do not fit the budget. Losing products that have the mark on them can be devastating since those items cost money to be created. And taking the symbol away puts the business owner back to square one in the creative department.
How can you avoid trademark infringement?
Before you put a symbol on products or use it to signify your company, hire a trademark attorney and have that person assess the trademark along with others that may be similar to it. If there are any concerns at all about infringement, it is best to change the symbol before you start using it and spreading it out on your products. If you are proactive about avoiding infringement, you are much less likely to get caught in the middle of a lawsuit that could cost your company big time and money.