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5 Tips To Avoid Trademark Infringement Lawsuits

If you’re not sure how to create and register your own trademarks, seek help from a lawyer before you start marketing your business.

When you first launch a business, you’ll probably have a lot of creative ideas for things like marketing, social media posts, slogans, and label designs. For the most part, it’s okay to run with your ideas. If anything doesn’t work, you can always revise your strategy. However, when it comes to trademarks, you have to be careful not to infringe on someone else’s mark.

According to Mandour Law, if there is a likelihood of confusion where consumers may mistake one brand for another, that is grounds for a trademark infringement lawsuit. Many factors go into determining infringement, but generally speaking, two businesses in the same industry or location with similar or identical trademarks are at high risk.

It’s easier to commit trademark infringement than you think. Much of the time, it’s a complete accident; someone runs with an idea not knowing it’s already in use by another business. Accident or not, you have a responsibility to make sure you aren’t using someone else’s trademark, and the tips outlined in this article will help you avoid this issue.

1. Register your trademarks

It’s critical that you register your trademarks. If you end up in a lawsuit with another business over your trademarks, the entity with registered trademarks and a stronger history of using the trademark generally wins. This isn’t always true, but trademark registration gives you more credibility in court.

As more trademark lawsuits pop up, business owners are getting smart about registrations. For example, in 2019, there were 673,233 trademark applications filed. Make sure you follow suit.

2. Comply with a cease and desist letter

If you receive a cease and desist letter demanding that you stop using a certain trademark, and you realize your mistake, comply with the letter. For example, if you just launched your business and didn’t realize another longtime local business uses a similar logo design, work on redesigning your logo.

On the other hand, if you’ve received a cease and desist letter from a business that is not in your industry, or hasn’t been doing business as long as you with the trademark(s) in question, talk to a trademark attorney as soon as possible. You don’t have to comply with an unreasonable request. If you have any doubt at all, discuss the matter with a lawyer.

3. Research trademarks before creating your marks

Before you get started with creating logos and phrases, securing domain names, or adopting specific colors for your business, search the trademark database to make sure you’re in the clear with your ideas. If you find a business using your ideas, change your ideas until they aren’t similar enough to cause confusion.

Research is important to conduct early on. You don’t want to spend thousands of dollars and months of your time creating the perfect logo, slogans, and other designs only to find out another company uses similar marks. You also don’t want to spend money on search engine optimization (SEO) for one domain name, only to find out it infringes on someone else’s trademark.

Always research trademarks first to make sure you aren’t committing trademark infringement. Even accidental violations of the law can be prosecuted.

4. Get general liability insurance

The right insurance policy can pay for some of your legal expenses if you get sued for trademark infringement. For example, some general liability insurance policies cover attorney fees, court fees, the cost of hiring an expert witness, and also settlements and judgments if you lose your case.

5. Seek an attorney’s help

If you’ve been sent a cease and desist letter, or you’ve been served with a trademark infringement lawsuit, contact an attorney as soon as possible. Don’t respond to any letter or go to court without getting advice from a lawyer.

Trademark lawsuits are a big deal and it’s never a good idea to try to represent yourself in federal court. Self-representation dramatically reduces your chance of winning your case and makes you vulnerable to emotional reactions, which will further destroy your chance of winning.

A skilled attorney will help you navigate the court system and will use their skills to either help you win or settle your case.

Trademark infringement is a big deal

It’s best to proactively prevent getting caught up in a trademark infringement lawsuit. Always do your research to ensure you aren’t using someone else’s marks. This includes logos, images, colors, and even domain names.

If you’re not sure how to create and register your own trademarks, seek help from a lawyer before you start marketing your business. Getting legal help is the best way to avoid a lawsuit.

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