Trademark Law and Trade Dress
Trademark Law can be a complicated issue. They are important issues for artists, designers, and companies to consider while conducting business with consumers and other businesses. On the trademark side, the name or logo of a company is what helps customers and competitors know who you are. A picture is worth a lot to a company as one logo can help customers identify to a company. The worth of a product comes a lot by the company that made it.
This is especially true in the clothing and design areas. Customers buy from certain companies for many different reasons, whether it be price, quality, quantity, customer satisfaction, location, environment, social status, ect. As a result, it is important for companies to ensure that they place their trade and trademarks. Companies have a duty to police their trade and trademarks to ensure that they are not being infringed. If a company fails to police their trade or trademark, that is grounds for a federal judge to find that the individual was not diligent in policing their trademark and therefore forfeits the right to enforce that trademark.
Sad but true. This is especially hard for companies that may have old trademark names they are not using at the time, but still many customers know and remember. If that trademark logo and phrase has been put on the shelf for a while, there is a possibility that the company may not be able to keep other companies from using in in the future.
Enforcing trademarks is important as the company wants to ensure that any revenue made off a trademark or logo is made through the company and not through a knock-off of company that is not affiliated. Lost revenue is concern for companies as that is what they live and die by. If a company is profiting off another logo, it is important to get a Temporary Restraining Order in place to keep that company from profiting further. Thereafter, the company can move forward on a suit on collecting any royalty fees gained.
A company can also send another company a cease and desist letter from using the company logo as a friendly reminder that they are not authorized to use that logo. Many individuals that make small businesses sometimes don’t realize they are infringing on a trademark or logo so a reminder could solve any future problems. Also, a small business and company should ensure that their implementation of a trademark or logo or even trade dress is not infringing on another company before implementing it.
There can be exceptions to using a certain name for a company that is the same name of another company in another area such as the type of business that is being conducted and the location of the businesses. The key is whether or not the names or logos would confuse a consumer. If two business are very distinct in what they do and how they act, there may not be infringement, but it would be important to talk to an attorney prior.
Trade dress is how a business designs the look of their business. So for example, if there is a company that creates a restaurant and the inside and outside looks and feels like someone is in Taco Bell, there could be a trade dress violation as well.
Companies live and die by their trade. Many companies spend a lot of money into developing and determining how consumers react to their logos and trades in their advertising, what colors will draw their attention, what attitude and feel is important ect. As a result, if someone is using that same trade and making money off of the effort of the other company there is a definite problem.
As a result, it is important to come up with trademarks and logos that will not violate another company's trademark and logo, it is important to police that trademark and logo once it has been implemented and it is important to protect oneself if a cease and desist letter or lawsuit has been filed against them.
For more information and questions and inquiry into trademark law contact our Utah law firm and attorneys today for consultations or advisements to help us determine and give you guidance on your specific questions as this article is only general guidance and should not be taken as legal advice for a specific trademark question.