Trademarks protect your brand’s unique identity in your industry. Many company logos, names, and other identifiers are similar. Familiarizing yourself with common trademark infringement examples can help you know how to identify and avoid them.
Trademark infringement arises when one company posits that another company is using its trademark without permission. It’s up to the original company to prove the improper trademark use. Whether the charge is due to confusing consumers or ineffective trademark searches, the winner of an infringement case depends on several factors left up to the United States courts.
Examples of Trademark Infringement
Common trademark infringement examples include those between companies over name disputes. Shared words are often the subject of trademark infringement cases, such as Apple Corps vs. Apple Inc.
Depending on the offending company’s country and laws, those seeking judgment may have a case. Some countries have additional or different protocols for trademark infringement. For example, brand trademarks have not passed in Europe due to creativity complaints.
Other examples of infringement include imagery. Similarities in logos have resulted in cease-and-desist letters and other out-of-court settlements. In other cases, outdated or offensive images have lost their trademark, thus allowing others to avoid facing legal action if they use the same graphic.
Determining Factors in Trademark Infringement
The courts rule based on the degree to which a trademark confuses consumers. They use the following criteria to determine their final ruling:
- Trademark similarity: The court compares each mark’s meaning, appearance, and pronunciation. If they are too similar in color, shape, definition, or any other aspect, they cause significant confusion.
- Strength: A strong trademark has a notable meaning. If one mark is strong but the other is weaker, the weaker one may cause more consumer confusion.
- Product similarities: If two companies selling identical products or services have similar marks, it can be easy for consumers to mistake one brand’s creation for the other’s. Taking a case like this to court can help avoid such confusion.
- Consumer cognizance: The court also rules depending on whether a product’s trademark is confusing even when the customer is fully aware of their purchase. Not all items require a significant amount of purchasing care. Trademarks that continuously instill confusion about pricy items are often more problematic.
Notable Trademark Infringement Cases
Trademark infringement cases don’t always turn out as a company expects. These cases are often lengthy and expensive for both sides. Because trademarks have global influence, the results and costs vary widely.
Some of the most notable trademark infringement cases include:
- D2 Holdings vs. “House of Cards”: D2 Holdings’ trademark for “House of Cards” held up against MRC II Distribution Co. MRC had a history of trademark filing failures and had received many cease-and-desist letters from D2.
- Louis Vuitton vs. Louis Vuitton Dak: Similarities between the brands’ names caused infringement concerns. The latter brand also imitated the Louis Vuitton branding imagery.
- 3M and 3N: In China, 3M sued 3N for its similar trademark. Due to consumer confusion, 3N’s acquisition of 3M customers resulted in an infringement ruling. 3M’s trademark stands today.
Choose True Lawyer
True Lawyer is your trademark and copyright law firm serving residents across the US. Whether you’ve been accused of infringement or need reliable trademark defense, we can help. Choose us to fight your trademark infringement case with our offices in Chicago, Evergreen Park, and beyond.
We are aware of trademark infringement examples of all types. Your business’s identity, branding elements, and more are unique and essential to your company’s overall image.
Maintain a professional, trustworthy appearance in your industry by working with True Lawyer in Chicago, IL, when you face a trademark infringement claim. Contact our Chicago firm at (312) 442-0057.