Trademark infringement

Trademark infringement occurs if another party, in the course of trade, uses a sign that is substantially identical and confusable with, or deceptively similar to, a trademark already in use.

Well-known brands are frequently targets for this type of activity with disingenuous competitors offering poor quality or inferior substitute goods and services.

In today's world, it is common for duplicitous companies, organisations and individuals to use the commercial advantages and assets of others, such as trademarks, in unfair or illegal attempts to succeed in business.

Infringement of trademarks can be a significant threat to successful businesses, harming revenues and profits as well as commercial standing, character and reputations that have been hard-earned.

Trademark infringement is a serious problem happening increasingly around the globe, often through the act of counterfeiting, with the range of fake goods and pirated items increasing hugely. Some estimates suggest that the market for counterfeit goods could be as high as 10 per cent of global trade. Figures from official bodies such as the International Counterfeiting Intelligence Bureau (ICIB) indicate the figure is lower at five to seven per cent which is approaching £400bn in worldwide trade.

It is important for trademark owners to maintain vigilance of their marks in the marketplace. Where infringement arises, knowledge and application of the law is able to protect businesses, their intellectual property and related assets. The law is crucial for tackling infringement cases, from knowing what is unlawful to what is within the law. For trademarks, it is possible to use legal measures, including enforcement action if necessary, to protect the brand identity of businesses.

For a legal action to succeed it must be established that a trademark has been infringed - yet it is not uncommon for enterprises to encounter identical or confusingly similar trademarks.

A famous example of this is Apple, a brand name owned by two companies - the record label and the computer maker. Apple Corps owns and exploits rights mainly to music of 20th century pop band The Beatles while Apple computers manufacture computers and develop software.

There is clear similarity of trademarks. However, the law also requires it must be likely that people would confuse them with the goods and services of the trademark owner. In this case, they trade in different markets, each enjoying an independent existence. Read more about the Apple vs Apple legal issues.

Pursuing trademark infringers

If marks appear to be infringed, JMW Solicitors' trademark lawyers recommend pursuing proactive approaches against offenders that demonstrate a rigorous and aggressive defence of trademarks. Our established record of legal intervention and litigation shows that infringers are less likely to consider imitating the trademarks of businesses that develop and build such an aggressively defensive reputation.

Failure to act can risk losing a trademark. Commercial threats from small scale infringers may seem low risk but turning a blind eye at this stage could see a trademark diluted in value. Subsequently, future legal action could be more difficult.

JMW Solicitors has represented many UK and international brands in trademark disputes to protect their intellectual property rights. To discuss trademark infringement issues or other trademark violation matters, without obligation in the first instance, feel free to contact us through our online enquiry form or call on 0345 872 6666.

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