Updated November 25, 2020:

Company Name Trademark Infringement

For many, company name trademark infringement is a major business risk and deserves far more attention than many business owners give to it. With a little bit of work early on, you can save yourself a lot of problems down the line. Deciding on your business and product names can be tough, yet you also need to make sure it doesn't infringe on another person's trademarks.

The best way to determine if your business name might be violating another's trademark is to do a thorough and professional trademark search. The trademark search should look for trademarks that are not only exactly the same but also ones that are similar and may cause consumer confusion.

Here are some statistics from 2016 that show just how prevalent trademark infringement, litigation, and enforcement is:

  • Most Litigious Plaintiff By Trademark Cases Filed: Coach at 730 Lawsuits
  • Federal District With Most Trademark Suits: California's Central District at 4,164
  • Defendant With Most Trademark Lawsuits: NFL at 548

It is clear that making sure your products and business name do not infringe on others' trademark is important, as the likelihood of a trademark lawsuit is significant otherwise.

Trademarks essentially are rights granted by the government to distinctive features and symbols of a business that help consumers recognize it and its brand. Service marks are just like trademarks, except they refer to services.

If a trademark is overly similar to another trademark, then they have a conflict.

Trademark rights are granted by first use. Essentially, the first person to use the completed trademark in business will have ownership over its rights, including suing those who use it otherwise.

Your company's and products' name and design will be how you represent yourself to customers. It is important to make sure that not only are they strong representations of your brand, but that they avoid potentially devastating trademark infringement.

Trademark Infringement Background

A registered trademark will give you various legal remedies and protections against those who infringe on your trademark. The result of trademark protections is that you will have exclusive ownership over a certain brand in the public market.

In the UK, various trademark laws allow companies to also have their names and brand challenged if they infringe on a trademark owned by someone else. This is intended to create clear barriers between different actors in the market.

The EUTMR is a European Union trademark regulation that also adds even more protection for trademarks.

Action Required if Without Trademark

When your business and products do not have registered trademarks, it may be worthwhile to get a name monitoring service for companies.

Essentially, a name monitoring service notifies you about the incorporation of new businesses that fall under certain terms you designate. By receiving prompt notification of companies with similar names, you can file actions under UK and EU law to stop the use of names that may damage or confuse your brand.

A company monitoring service is different from a trademark monitoring service, which only monitors trademarks that are being applied for. The company watch will give you an earlier notification, at least for company names, and may help reduce more labor and cost-intensive litigation for full trademark infringement cases.

Risks, Benefits, and Fees for Protecting the Brand Name

Your brand is a key part of your business. You should give it proper due diligence and ensure it is secure. If you don't keep vigilant, it may slowly over time result in the brand's decay.

Trademark monitoring primarily means keeping an eye out for new companies and trademarks. You will need to determine the specific monitoring services you wish to subscribe to and set aside the regular annual fees for those services. These services often will give you regular reports and, if action is needed, provide you with recommendations on how to proceed.

Often these services will offer a fixed fee, although some might have variable fee structures as well. These services help take care of the otherwise time-consuming work of constantly monitoring both company incorporations as well as trademark registration applications.

If you need help with company name trademark infringement, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.