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Tampa trademarks and intellectual property lawyerHow exactly can your trademark be infringed upon? According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, trademark infringement occurs when anyone uses your trademark without permission “on or in connection with goods and/or services” in a way that will “cause confusion, deception, or mistake about the source of the goods and/or services.”

This means that trademark infringement occurs if the use of your mark, or something too similar, might cause consumers to become confused, even if the infringing party used your trademark unintentionally. This is why individuals and companies must be careful when choosing a trademark in the first place, since a trademark should not be something that can be easily confused with other marks. Trademark protections allow you to protect your brand from being associated with others that may not offer the same quality of work or products that you do.

Determining Whether Your Trademark Has Been Infringed

There are several factors that go into establishing that your trademark has been infringed before taking legal action. Your trademark must have been legally established first, prior to the other individual or company using the mark. The infringing use of your trademark must be similar enough that people could be confused in some way when buying the goods or services. 

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Florida trademark attorney registration infringementNo one wants their ideas and dreams to be stolen. Sometimes, there is a fine line between what is yours and what someone else can legally use. When there is a question, a knowledgeable intellectual property attorney can determine if that line has been crossed. When you own a trademark, it is important to understand your rights and your options for addressing infringement.

Choosing Your Trademark

Trademarks are symbols, sometimes including a name and/or other words, that identify your product. When people see these symbols, they think of your company or your product. Trademarks make it easy to recognize a particular manufacturer or brand, and they can be registered to keep others from using something too similar which could confuse consumers. 

This is why it is important before you choose a trademark to consult an attorney and ensure that your trademark is original enough to avoid scrutiny. Attorneys can conduct a trademark search to ensure that your desired trademark is not already in use. Even simply using your own company’s name could be an infringement on some other business’s trademark, so it must be chosen carefully.

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Florida trademark attorneysTrademark registration law is full of interesting quirks and cases. In this post, we will answer two frequently asked questions about trademark law in the context of well-known brands.

Can One Product Have Multiple Trademarks?

A product or service can have multiple elements that can and should be trademarked individually. The MonopolyⓇ board game provides a good illustration of this. Hasbro, Inc. has registered trademarks for the Monopoly brand name, the Mr. Monopoly name and character, and the unique names and symbols of the game board’s corner squares (In Jail/Just Visiting, Go to Jail, Free Parking, and Go - although any game can use the word “go”). Each of these trademarks is a distinct verbal and/or visual element that consumers use to identify a product as coming from the Monopoly brand.

In an interesting twist, US courts have ruled that Hasbro’s trademark is not infringed by other board games that use names ending in “opoly” combined with a familiar-looking game board, i.e., spaces labeled with place names lining the four sides of a square board. For example, no trademark infringement has been committed by Late for the Sky Production Company’s city-based games such as Tampa-Opoly and university-based games such as Gator-Opoly. These games cannot, however, use the trademarked corner symbols that appear on the Monopoly brand game board nor can they use the Mr. Monopoly character. In addition, when these games use trademarked university logos, they must have permission from the trademark owner.

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Florida trademark attorneyAs a business owner, you most likely have created some valuable intellectual property (IP) that should be trademarked. But are you clear on the definition of a trademark? This article will explain what types of IP can and cannot be trademarked.

FYI, the term “trademark” in its narrowest sense is used in reference to products while the term “service mark” is used in reference to services (e.g., Jiffy LubeⓇ oil change service). However, the term “trademark” is commonly used in reference to both products and services because the same US law generally applies to both.

What Is a Trademark?

A trademark is something that makes it easy for consumers to recognize your brand when they see it. It can consist of words, graphic elements, or both.

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Florida trademark attorneyYou might think “intellectual property” is limited to inventions that a business has patented. But the definition is actually much broader, including such things as:

  • Your website domain name.
  • Copyrighted works of writing, art, or music.
  • Trademarked brand names and logos.
  • The trade dress of your business, which includes unique visual aspects of your website as well as products, packaging, and even building architecture.
  • Trade secrets, including proprietary processes and methods, algorithms, patterns, client lists … any information you would closely guard to keep it out of the hands of competitors.

Here are four questions every business owner should ask and answer with regard to intellectual property:

Do you know the value of your intellectual property? If you really think about the scope of your business, you probably have more intellectual property than you first thought. List your most important IP assets, and ask yourself two questions. First, do I have sufficient protections in place, given the value of this IP? Second, how much am I willing to spend to defend this IP? If a competitor should infringe on your intellectual property rights, you will want to react quickly to avoid potential losses and to collect compensation for any financial damage that may have already occurred. At the same time, you need to take a cost-effective approach to protecting your IP, considering the financial investment and future revenue at stake.

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