Trademark Infringement Attorney in Washington, D.C.
Has another company or person tried to use your trademark? Are you being accused of infringing another person’s trademark? Whether you’re protecting your trademark or defending yourself against an accusation of trademark infringement, you will need the competent, devoted legal representation of War IP Law’s trademark infringement attorney.
Trademark is the center of a company’s identity. Individuals and businesses register their trademarks to protect their intellectual property. When one person uses an identical or similar trademark of another for similar goods and/or services, there is a danger of confusion. This confusion may be the basis for infringement under trademark law. Consult with a Washington, D.C.-based trademark attorney if your trademark has been infringed.
War IP Law is based in Washington, D.C., and represents clients wishing to take legal action against a trademark or service mark infringer. We also represent companies and individuals accused of infringing a trademark owned by another. Please contact us online to book a consultation with our trademark infringement lawyer regarding protecting your intellectual property.
Why Do I Need a Trademark Infringement Attorney in Washington, D.C.?
Even if you have been aware of a single occasion where you believe your trademark has been infringed, proving this in a court of law on your own will be difficult.
Trademark infringement lawyers have access to special evidence, like digital forensics, that you probably would not have if you attempted to prosecute your case on your own. Moreover, War IP Law’s trademark attorney can identify and take steps to stop any trademark infringement practices, even ones you were unaware of. Likewise, if someone infringes on your trademark and remains anonymous, our Washington, D.C. IP attorney has a better chance of tracking them down and taking them to court.
Whether you are pursuing someone for trademark infringement or someone is suing you, it is critical to understand the related law and legal principals. Washington, D.C. IP Attorneys at War IP Law will be able to explain these distinctions to you and assess how they apply in your case, resulting in the best possible outcome. Call War IP Law now to set up a consultation!
What is a Trademark?
A trademark is a word, a symbol, or a phrase that is used to distinguish and identify the products of one producer or seller from the products of another. For instance, the “Nike” trademark and the Nike “swoosh” differentiate the products created by Nike from those made by other companies such as Adidas or Reebok.
In certain cases, trademark protection can encompass product features other than words, phrases, and symbols, such as color or packaging. For example, Owens-Corning fiberglass insulation’s pink color or the distinctive curve of the Coca-Cola bottle might serve as distinguishing characteristics. These features are sometimes referred to as “trade dress,”
Such features, however, will not be protected if they provide a functional or competitive benefit. For example, a manufacturer cannot restrict the use of a certain unique bottle shape if that shape gives any functional benefit (for example, it is easier to stack or grip).
A Brand’s Identity
Trademarks allow consumers to immediately recognize the source of a certain product. Consumers might search for Coca-Cola’s trademark instead of reading the small text on a can of cola.
Rather than asking a shop employee who created a certain sports shoe, customers may look for specific identifying symbols, such as a swoosh or a distinct pattern of stripes. By making it easier to identify the source of the product, trademarks also provide businesses a motivation to invest in the quality of their products or services.
Trademark law contributes to these goals by regulating the correct use of trademarks.
What Qualifies as Trademark Infringement?
If one party has the rights to a certain trademark, that party has the ability to sue other parties for trademark infringement under certain circumstances. Use of another’s trademark with respect to similar goods and/or services constitutes trademark infringement if it will probably create consumer confusion as to the source of such products or as to the approval or sponsorship of such goods.
Courts will typically consider several factors when determining if consumers are likely to be confused, including
- The mark’s strength
- The goods’ proximity;
- The marks’ similarity;
- Proof of actual confusion;
- The resemblance of marketing channels used;
- The extent of caution exercised by the typical purchaser;
- The intent of the defendant.
Using an identical mark for the same products, for example, should constitute infringement. If a person manufactures and sells computers under the trademark “Apple,” they would most likely cause confusion because the public consumer will believe Apple Computer, Inc. manufactures or stands behind those computers. If the marks are similar enough in sound, look, or meaning to cause confusion, the use of a similar mark for the same or similar goods may also inevitably lead to an infringement claim.
Therefore, Apple Records and Apple may coexist since customers are unlikely to believe that the record firm creates computers or vica versa.
What Are the Requirements for a Trademark?
In general, a mark has to be distinctive to perform as a trademark. When deciding if a mark is distinctive, courts classify the mark under four categories depending on its relationship to the actual product:
- Arbitrary or whimsical,
- Generic, or
The extent of a particular trademark’s legal protection will vary depending on which group it belongs to because the distinctiveness of the marks in each category differs.
Arbitrary or Whimsical Mark
An arbitrary or whimsical mark is one that has no logical connection with the actual goods. The terms “Apple,” “Exxon,” and “Kodak,” for example, have no intrinsic relationship to their actual goods (which are computers, gasoline, or cameras respectively). Similarly, Nike’s “swoosh” does not have an inherent relationship to sports shoes. Arbitrary or whimsical marks are fundamentally distinctive (capable of identifying an actual product) and are provided extensive protection.
A suggestive mark is one that brings to mind or suggests an attribute of the underlying product. For example, the business name “Coppertone” suggests sun-tan lotion. However, it does not describe the actual product. To associate the name with the actual product, some imagination is necessary. Nevertheless, the name is not entirely unrelated to the actual product. Suggestive marks, like arbitrary or whimsical marks, are intrinsically unique and are afforded extensive protection.
A descriptive mark, on the other hand, directly describes, instead of suggests, a feature or characteristic of the actual goods (such as their color, dimensions, function, ingredients, or odor). “Holiday Inn” and “Vision Center,” for example, each define some features of the actual goods or services (respectively, hotel rooms and optical services).
Unlike arbitrary or suggestive marks, descriptive marks are not intrinsically unique and are only protectable on the principal register if they have achieved “secondary meaning.” Descriptive marks must overcome this extra obstacle since they are phrases that help describe the actual product. Allowing a certain manufacturer exclusive use of the phrase could result in an unfair advantage.
When the consuming public identifies a descriptive mark with a specific manufacturer instead of the actual product, the mark possesses secondary meaning. Thus, the phrase “Holiday Inn” has gained secondary meaning since the general public associates it with a specific supplier of hotel services instead of hotel services in general.
Courts often consider the following elements when considering if a particular phrase has gained secondary meaning:
- The quantity and method of advertising;
- Sales volume;
- The duration and manner of the phrase’s use; and
- The findings of consumer surveys.
Lastly, a generic mark defines the broad category to which the actual product belongs. For example, “Computer” is a generic term for computer equipment. Under trademark law, generic marks are not protected.
Therefore, a business offering “Computer” brand computers (as well as “Apple” brand apples, etc.) would not have the exclusive right to use that phrase concerning such products. Because generic phrases are just too beneficial for identifying a specific product, they are not protected under trademark law.
Single Producer Exclusive Ownership
Giving a single producer exclusive ownership of the word would provide that business an unfair competitive edge. Under some conditions, non-generic phrases might become generic over time (a process called “genericity”) and hence become unprotected.
Call a Trademark Infringement Attorney in Washington, D.C. Today!
The lawyer you hire to enforce your trademark or defend you from a trademark infringement allegation may significantly impact your future finances and business performance. War IP Law PLLC recognizes the value of a legally established trademark and the importance of your trademarks to you and your business.
War IP Law PLLC is a trusted law firm enforcing businesses’ and individual’s trademarks. We understand trademark laws and your rights. We take steps to ensure that no one takes advantage of your company’s reputation and integrity by infringing on its intellectual property. War IP Law’s trademark infringement attorneys are also prepared to defend you from an overly aggressive business trying to infringe on your intellectual property rights.
We are committed to delivering your case’s best and most effective legal action. When you come to us, you will be working with a well-established legal firm that fights for the intellectual property rights of business owners. No matter how complicated a trademark issue may be, we know how to effectively protect your rights to maximize the benefits for your business. Contact us now!