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What Happens if a Trademark is Infringed?

William B. Hanley June 29, 2020

Trademark infringement in California is the unauthorized use of a trademark to sell products/services or to promote a company. Infringement causes deception or confusion about the source of the services or the goods that a company provides. A person may commit trademark infringement either knowingly or by accident.

If a trademark is infringed, the offender is likely to face a civil lawsuit from the individual or company that owns the trademark. The defendant may be liable for a wide range of damages and be subject to state or federal penalties. 

California Law Regarding Trademark Infringement

According to California Business and Professions Code Sections 14320, Article 11 defines infringement as using any reproduction, counterfeit, copy, or colorable imitation of a registered mark without the permission of the registrant. Infringement can occur in the following ways:

Use Without Consent

A company that wishes to use a trademark must do so with the registrant's legal consent. In most cases, consent must be in writing and under a legal contract. The registrant also provides conditions or guidelines for the use of the trademark.

Reproducing the Trademark

The State of California recognizes reproduction as counterfeiting, copying, or colorably imitating a trademark. The offender may not publish any form of the trademark, whether intentionally or by accident, for the purpose of promoting a service or product.

Facilitating the Use of a Trademark

A company may not knowingly use, distribute, or display any form of the trademark registered under the owner. It may not facilitate the use of the trademark in any way without the permission of the owner.

Evidence in a Trademark Infringement Case

For a claimant to win a trademark infringement case, they must establish that they own the trademark. A company can use documents to demonstrate that the trademark is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), thus, satisfying the definition of “trademark” that forms the basis of the lawsuit.

Next, the claimant must produce evidence of trademark infringement by showing that the defendant’s use of the mark caused consumer confusion. The defendant's use of the trademark must be similar enough to the original that it likely caused confusion with consumers.

Defenses Against a Trademark Infringement Claim

Defense cases are not always clear-cut, even when it is evident that the defendant is using the same trademark. As such, defendants may have options for raising legitimate defenses against the owner of the trademark. A trademark attorney in Irvine, California, can present arguments such as:

  • The defendant was unaware there was a trademark

  • The trademark registration was fraudulent or flawed

  • The plaintiff abandoned the trademark  

  • The defendant had permission to use the trademark

  • The trademark is descriptive of the product

A lawyer can assess the validity of an infringement claim, as well as evaluate the chances of a successful defense. There may be options for a dispute resolution if the defendant is found guilty of trademark infringement.

How a Trademark Attorney Can Help with an Infringement Case

An attorney can provide legal counsel and guidance to help clients navigate the complex legal system. They can help their client avoid mistakes that could hurt their case. A legal team can investigate the claim, obtain evidence that supports their client’s position, formulate a legal strategy, and present a compelling argument before a judge.

Attorneys can ensure that their client’s rights are protected while helping them get the best possible outcome for their case. Without an attorney, a plaintiff or defendant may not have the legal leverage they need to win in court.

Contact a Skilled Trademark Infringement Lawyer in Irvine, CA

Attorney William B. Hanley offers legal services for clients involved in business litigation cases. Clients who need representation in a trademark infringement case can get the legal representation they need to protect their intellectual property and business assets. Contact William B. Hanley, Attorney at Law to get a free case assessment from a trademark infringement attorney in Irvine, California.