Trademark Infringement vs. Dilution

There is no requirement for trademarks to be registered in the U.S. Despite this relaxed rule, it is in your best interest to protect any distinctive marks that identify your business and the products or services offered. If you do not apply to have your marks protected, they are at risk of being infringed or diluted by outside parties who seek to piggyback off the success of your business endeavors. This blog will cover what these two violations are, generally, and what you can do about them. 

Trademark Infringement

Essentially, infringement occurs when someone else uses, without authorization, a registered trademark or service mark that causes (or is likely to cause) confusion about the source of the goods or services among consumers. The genesis of intellectual property law in the U.S. was intended to protect consumers from misleading advertising, and trademark infringement is a manifestation of those efforts. Infringement often occurs when an individual or business begins selling similar goods or services to the company connected with the senior, or priority, trademark.

Example: A local eatery opens up; the signage outside features a logo extremely similar to that of a chain restaurant that has locations across several states. Because both of these business owners operate restaurants, and the chain restaurant has a registered trademark, the local restaurant would be guilty of infringement. 

Trademark Dilution

Dilution of a trademark has occurred when a famous trademark or service mark is weakened, or diluted, by unauthorized usage of the mark by a third party. Unlike infringement, proving dilution does not require likely confusion by consumers or competition between the disputing parties. Dilution usually has to do with famous marks that are widely recognized. The 2006 Trademark Dilution Revision Act laid out what generally has to be demonstrated to show that dilution of a mark has occurred. 

Example: A disreputable business owner tries to capitalize off the massive success of Netflix, Inc. by selling a brand of popcorn that has the word “Netflix” on the outside of the bags. This would dilute the registered trademark of “Netflix.”

What Actions Can Be Taken if You Suspect a Dilution or Infringement Has Occurred?

The first step for many trademark violations is to send a cease-and-desist letter to the offending party. Many times, this action is effective in getting the attention of the other party and leading them to stop their actions. If that isn’t successful, you might have to file a lawsuit in state or federal court. Remember, your trademark must be registered and in use for you to have a chance at a successful claim. 

Whether you want to confront a potential violator of your registered intellectual property or you have received a cease and desist letter, our firm can help you resolve the situation amicably and efficiently. Get in touch with us here to schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation.

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Hayoon Kane Law Firm

I am committed to helping business owners such as yourself understand the intricacies of the law, so you can concentrate on growing your company.

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