Intellectual PropertyTrademarks

Steps to Take if Someone Uses Your Trademark

Trademark is one of your business’ key assets. If someone uses it without due permission, yo

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Trademark registration ensures certain rights and privileges to the owner and protects them from being ripped off or copied by imitators. It prohibits the use of the same logo or design by others. Hence, it makes sure that the owner has complete control over the brand name. 

Even after trademarking a logo or a tagline, we see that certain other business owners feel that they can copy it and get away with it. So, as an owner, what can you do if someone copies your trademark? Take a look at the steps you can take if you figure out that someone has been misusing your trademark.

What Can You Trademark

In India, laws allow you to trademark any of the following or a combination of the following:

  • Letter
  • Numerical value
  • Word
  • Catchphrase
  • Logo
  • Graphic design
  • Smell
  • Sound or Jingle
  • Combination of colours
  • Invented word
  • Monograms
  • The shape of goods or packaging
  • 3- dimensional sign.

GET YOUR TRADEMARK REGISTERED BY PROFESSIONALS

Legal requirements to register a trademark:

  1. The mark must be graphically represented
  2. It must help consumers distinguish the goods of the company from another
  3. It should be used to indicate a connection between the goods and the company it is manufactured by.

The functions of a trademark:

  • Identifies goods and services
  • Guarantees quality
  • Advertises the products or services
  • Adds to the brand value
  • Creates an image of the brand

Steps to Take

Trademark Infringement

Trademark infringement occurs when consumers are led to believe that another brand is the same as the brand owned by you, due to the careful placing or misusing of a trademark logo or tagline. This double utilisation leads to confusion and dissatisfaction among users. Hence, if you use a particular mark to make your goods and services unique, inquire with customers whether a similar sounding name or logo by a different brand is confusing them or not. If you believe they will not mistake that brand for yours, then probably, your case does not hold good in court.

Geographic Restrictions

While these may not hold for large ventures, small ventures often face difficulties proving infringement with respect to their location. If your business has a nationwide presence, then you need not worry about area and location. Due to rising internet penetration and the growth of e-commerce, geographic restrictions are reducing daily, and hence courts now consider such online nearness to have enough impact on another’s sales.

Indistinguishability

Another regularly occurring issue with regards to trademark law is that names are challenging to make indistinguishable. Similar sounding names may seem like infringement, but their similarity may be subjective in nature and is hence difficult to prove in court. While most courts take sight, sound and implication as the aspects of comparing similarity, it is not very easy to show that two names sound or look indistinguishable and hence the laws regarding the same are ambiguous at times.

Action

  • If you believe that the other name is being utilised by your competitor to confuse clients and works in the same locale as you, thereby affecting your sales, then you must take action against the imposter
  • The initial step would be to contact a lawyer who has some experience in the field of trademark law and then follow their advice
  • Such issues are usually dealt with by sending a caution letter to the business infringing your brand name and asking them to refrain from using your trademark logo or tagline
  • If the infringer backs off, respects your word, and stops utilising your brand name, then the matter is dealt with and you can go back to managing your business
  • In the off chance that the imposter pays no heed to your caution and continues doing the same, you will have to bring it to the notice of the court and undertake legal proceedings as required
  • Record a claim stating the infringement and the effects it is having on your business in a court nearby and if the violation is occurring in several localities, then approach the state court.
  • Record a trademark encroachment claim and file for the accused to pay you cash for the harm they have done to your business.

Trademark registration helps you shout out, “This brand name is ours, so stay away!”. This is extremely helpful when running a business in today’s ultra-competitive world. Having a brand name that people identify with goes a long way in increasing sales and building brand value. This is precisely why you should not take infringement of trademark laws lightly but instead, ensure that no other business rides on the back of your hard work and perseverance.

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