When running a business, there is a lot of intangible value you create like patents, trade secrets and trademarks. Trademarks are an interesting aspect of a company’s value because they do not necessarily result in income but are nonetheless vital to said company’s brand.
People do not necessarily buy Coca-Cola because of the classic cursive font. However, you can bet that they recognize a can of Coke when they see it. Seeing another product with trademarked aspects may cause confusion and impact profits. That is when trademark litigation comes into play.
As the United States Patent and Trademark Office defines it, trademark infringement involves the unauthorized use of your trademark in a way that is likely to cause confusion or deception.
If you prove that a competitor engaged in this, courts may order an injunction to stop them from using your trademark. They may also require a product’s destruction and that said competitor pay you monetary relief.
Trademark protections before and after use
Trademarks involve a product, but that does not mean your protections start once the product launches in the marketplace. If you have an idea with a product in mind, you may trademark the product name beforehand without an intent to use it. This essentially reserves your intellectual property as you create the product. However, federal law requires you to use the mark within six months to three years of the filing.
If a competitor uses that mark, even without your product on the market, you have protections available. In the case where you need litigation to prove it, there are resources available.