A trademark litigation attorney represents businesses that are claiming trademark infringement by other entities. The first step in creating valuable intellectual property (IP) is to come up with an invention, trade name, idea, trademark, or other unique work. Next, you need to decide whether you want to keep your new idea exclusive. Some types of IP may not need or may not qualify for legal protection. If your idea or trademark does, however, you'll need to take certain steps to claim this protection.

What Is Trademark Infringement?

A trademark is a distinctive word, symbol, phrase, or combination of these elements that is used to identify your business's products and services. This allows customers to tell your goods apart from those offered by competitors. When another company infringes on your business's trademark, it damages your reputation and affects your ability to serve your customers. An experienced IP attorney can help you register your trademark and protect your interests in court if it is infringed upon. The court will determine whether the allegedly infringing trademark is similar enough to your mark to cause market confusion.

Depending on the type of use, you may be able to sue an entity using a similar trademark for either unfair competition or infringement. Even if no proof of customer confusion exists, they may be guilty of dilution if the use is found to tarnish or blur your trademark. The court may order that the party stop using the infringing mark.

Many trademark infringement suits are filed in federal court in Northern Virginia. Experienced IP attorneys know that the Eastern District federal court in the state handles IP matters quickly and efficiently.

Legal Protection of Intellectual Property

If you decide to take steps to protect your trademark, you can first file to register the mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Protecting a mark has financial costs and requires you to devote time and resources to trademark searches and other forms of research. If you end up suing to protect your claim to the mark, you will be responsible for litigation costs.

Given these factors, it's important to consider how much you will spend to legally protect your trademark. You'll need to assess the importance of the mark in establishing your brand identity and the financial and goodwill impact of possible market confusion caused by the infringement. You'll need to pay attorney fees throughout the case, which may be ongoing if the defendant loses and decides to appeal.

If someone tries to register a trademark that is similar to yours, you can file a Notice of Opposition or a Petition to Cancel with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Although this will result in similar proceedings to those in federal court, they tend to be shorter and cost less.

Cost of Trademark Litigation

Although defending your IP is one of the most costly forms of litigation, trademark litigation typically costs less than patent litigation. However, you can still expect to spend in the six figures.

Factors that contribute to the total cost include:

  • Bringing the action
  • Proceeding with the trial
  • Appealing or challenging an appeal

Trademark Infringement Remedies

Those who are found guilty of trademark infringement can be required to pay damages to compensate for either profit earned by use of the confusing mark or money lost by the original trademark owner. When intentional and willful infringement can be proven, you may also be eligible to receive punitive damages.

The court can also order injunctive relief, which means that the defendant will be prohibited from continuing to use the mark.

Types of Trademark Infringement Cases

Trademark infringement falls into several general categories. Some companies may use a similar mark to intentionally mislead your customers. This is referred to as trademark dilution when your mark is used on inferior goods or on goods that are purposely designed to look and act very similar to your products.

With trade dress infringement, the competitor may offer similar products with similar names and even steal the appearance and design of your products and packaging. The most blatant may even copy your business exactly from catalog to website to business cards.

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