What is a Trademark Lawsuit?

Erin J. Hill

A trademark lawsuit is a court hearing or trial between the owner of a licensed trademark or copyright, and a person accused of stealing the trademark or using it without consent. Companies buy the rights to a trademark, which can include logos, catch phrases, characters, and other advertising props, and have it copyrighted. This means that no other company or individual can use these things without written permission from the owner. A trademark lawsuit occurs when someone uses the items owned by the company or brand without this consent.

A courthouse.
A courthouse.

In the case of a trademark lawsuit, the burden of proof rests on the plaintiff. It is his job to present the judge or jury with enough evidence to prove that the defendant did in fact use the trademark or copyrighted materials without consent, and that the items used were part of the company’s trademark. Sometimes near replicas of the trademark suffice if it is obvious the company was copying or making a statement about the original copyright owner.

An application to register a trademark.
An application to register a trademark.

Slander and other degrading offenses may also fall under a trademark lawsuit if these things were done using a copy of the business’s trademark. This may classify the defendant as having committed two separate offenses, since both slander and copyright infringement are both crimes. They may be tried at the same time or in two separate lawsuits.

If found guilty in the trademark lawsuit, the defendant may be required to pay the plaintiff monetary damages. The amount of money owed will depend on several factors, including how much the original trademark is estimated at being worth and how much money the defendant may have earned while using the trademark illegally. Since a trademark is not a tangible item, assessing its monetary value may be hard to do. Generally the larger the company, the more the trademark is worth.

Patents may also be disputed in a trademark lawsuit, primarily if the defendant has made money selling an invention that had already been patented by someone else. If proven, the defendant may have to pay a percentage of all sales or discontinue production of the product. Improvements to the original patent, however, can be owned and produced by the defendant as a separate patent. In cases like this, it may be in the best interest of both parties to maintain a business relationship with each member getting a specific percentage of sales revenue.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Forgot password?