Unquestionably, a logo is the most significant identity of any brand. This is because it is present in each product or service the company offers and carries a brand message. People identify a brand and its offering by first checking its logo on packaging and other products. But what if someone comes up with a similar-looking logo to benefit from the famous brand’s name? That is where logo trademark infringement comes into the picture.
Maintaining brand identity and trust in the modern competitive world is essential. A brand builds a solid base of loyal customers for steady growth. But what if someone steals your identity and benefits from it as well? That is what every brand of good reputation worries about regarding logo protection.
To protect businesses from the theft of their logos, they have their logos trademarked. There is a trademark symbol of @ at the corner of most logos, indicating that this is a registered trademark. That signals to the competitors that they should avoid copying the logo design, or they will face legal consequences.
What is Trademark Infringement?
Trademark infringement is using a trademark without permission from the original owner of that brand symbol. For example, we all have seen people selling clothing by labeling it as branded clothing. One example of trademark infringement is an attempt to pass those clothes as authentic.
Even if a symbol looks similar to the officially registered one, it is also a trademark infringement case. So, all the copycat trademarks are examples of trademark infringement. This is because the purpose of such copycat symbols is to deceive consumers and sell them some copied products as authentic.
What is Logo Trademark Infringement?
A logo trademark infringement is when consumers can’t immediately tell the difference between the original logo and the other. That is because the copied logo design has similar color schemes and typography. If someone uses your logo trademark without your permission, that is also trademark infringement.
What determines Trademark Infringement?
If there arises some confusion among consumers that the product is from the trademark owner, that is the factor determining trademark infringement. But there are other factors as well.
It could be a brand infringement if the same products or goods are made and sold under a similar logo or another symbol. If the two marks look identical in appearance, it is also a case of infringement. The marketing and distribution channel type could also be a determining factor for trademark infringement.
When consumers are unsure whether the trademark is of the authoritative brand, it also becomes a basis for trademark infringement.
Famous Logo Trademark Infringement Cases
Logo trademark infringement cases are common across the globe. Unfortunately, these disputes take time to settle legally and often end with one party held guilty and paying a heavy penalty. However, since the law is on your side, you can approach a court of law to stop the misuse of your brand logo.
Still, there are many cases where two big companies are involved in a legal battle to settle a logo infringement dispute. The Louis Vuitton vs. Louis Vuiton Dak case is an excellent example of logo copyright infringement.
We know that Louis Vuitton is a French fashion house with a global reputation. But a fried chicken restaurant Louis Vuiton Dak also used a name and logo similar to that of the French company. As a result, the court ultimately asked the restaurant to pay $12000 as a fine.
Similarly, the Current vs. Facebook battle in the court over the infringement was also discussed. Current is an online startup bank that accused Facebook of using its logo design. Current said that the logo used by Facebook’s cryptocurrency service, Calibra, was similar in design. So, they filed a lawsuit against the social media giant Facebook.
These are not just two such cases of logo infringement. There are many such legal battles fought.
Here Are Some More Examples
- Academy Awards v. GoDaddy
- Zara Food vs. Zara Fashion
- Pantaloons vs. American Eagle
- Adidas vs. Forever
- Taylor Swift vs. Lucky 13
- Yahoo! Inc. v. Akash Arora
- 3M and 3N
- D2 Holdings vs. House of Cards
- The Coca-Cola Company v. Bisleri International Pvt. Ltd.
Tips To Keep Your Logo Safe From Trademark Infringement
Now you know that many in your niche and industry can copy your logo and use it to sell their products or services. Therefore, you should take essential protection measures to protect the logo from infringement attempts.
Here Are A Few Crucial Tips To Follow
01. Have A Unique But Fanciful Logo
If you want to avoid dealing with infringement issues in the future, have a unique and fanciful logo. Choose your logo name that does not have a dictionary meaning as it is a made-up word. Take, for example, Nike and Kodak. These words are created and have no dictionary meaning.
Similarly, you can think of using an arbitrary trademark such as Apple, which is a common word but has nothing to do with the service or manufacturing business of the company.
Such a unique logo gives you the highest protection. This is because such logos are creative designs. So, your competitors are unlikely to copy such a design. Instead, they will come up with their own logos.
Therefore, even when you use a logo maker to design your logo all by yourself, ensure that the finished design does not infringe on other brands’ logos accidentally in any way.
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02. Check Your Competitors’ Logos
Before you set out to create your logo, look at your competitors’ logos first. Then, ensure your logo design idea is not already taken and registered as a trademark. In this way, you will not be infringing others’ trademarks.
You should also pay attention to your competitors’ logo design elements. Look at the colors, typography, and other elements they have used. This will help you create a logo that does not look similar to theirs. Most trademark disputes are due to common elements used in two logos, leading to viewers’ confusion.
As you ponder why a logo is essential for your business, you will come across your competitors’ logos. Just study their color schemes, typography, etc., then come up with a distinctive logo that stands out from others in the market.
It would be good to first get some logo design tips from experts. That will guide you in creating a unique and impressive logo that helps build your brand identity.
03. Register With The USPTO
Make sure you register your logo as your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The registration process usually takes 12-18 months to complete.
But you have to renew your trademark registration. The USPTO does not remind the trademark holders about the renewal dates. Generally, the first renewal is between the 5th and 6th years of registering the logo for trademark.
The second renewal is between the 9th and 10th year from the first registration. Then, you are required to renew the trademark every 10 years.
04. Make Your Trademarked Logo Visible Everywhere
You should be displaying your logo everywhere so that it gets noticed. Competitors and others should regularly see your logo to let them know it already exists.
After seeing the logo more often, they will desist from making it their own identity. So, put your company’s logo on your products or services, website, packaging, and all of your marketing materials.
There is a little @ symbol on every trademark logo in one corner. That symbol clearly indicates to people and your competitors that the logo is a registered trademark.
05. Monitor Your Logo
Do not think your logo is fully protected after registering it as your trademark. You should also be monitoring your logo for potential infringements. Once you locate some duplicate versions of the logo, you can fight those copies legally.
Therefore, check USPTO trademark filings regularly and report a trademark like yours. It would help if you also used Google Alerts, which will automatically send alert emails. So, whenever your logo mark is mentioned anywhere, you will get the information. You can also use social listening tools for this purpose.
How to know if a logo trademark is Already taken and Registered?
You should check if someone is infringing your logo trademark anywhere around the world. So, visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). You can search registered trademarks free of charge at this site.
Since your logo has a design element, you should search by using a design code, for which you can consult USPTO’s Design Search Code Manual.
The USPTO’s Public Search Facility or a Patent and Trademark Resource Center near you also are free resources to look for trademark infringements.
Not just logos but even personal information today gets protected by strict government laws. For instance, the General Data Protection Regulation protects personal data and gives proof of how the data is protected. That benefits customers since they have control over how their data is used and handled by a company. So, the General Data Protection Regulation logo, for instance, will protect information about a company’s logo and its use.
So, these are the essential points you need to know to protect your logo from potential infringements. Make sure you regularly check the right platform to find any violation regarding your logo and its color scheme.
Meanwhile, if yours is a small business, you can create logos using an online logo maker tool, such as Designhill. This DIY software lets you access dozens of logo design ideas. You can choose one and customize it to suit your brand personality and message.
A logo is the most important visual brand identity of any brand. Therefore, it must get the utmost protection from infringement. A unique and distinctly designed logo is difficult to copy by competitors. But register the logo with a trademark providing authority and making the logo visible to everyone. Most importantly, find out if there are fresh infringement attempts to copy your logo and report.