Whether your trademark is a logo, your business name, a design, or all of the above, it represents your brand and is what distinguishes you, your products, or your services from anybody else’s. Unfortunately, there is always the chance that another party may try to use your trademark, or something very similar, As their own. Whether this is a purposeful act or done innocently, these disagreements can lead to significant and costly legal disputes. Here’s what you need to know about protecting your business trademark and navigating any disputes that arise.

As is always the case, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Before you choose a trademark for yourself, do some research to make sure that someone else hasn’t already registered it. This type of research is best done by searching the US Patent and Trademark Office’s database. Once you’ve made sure that nobody else is using it, go ahead and register it as your own. Doing so will provide you with important evidence that is often enough to deter anyone who tries to infringe. And once you start using your trademark, keep records of where and how you’ve used it. The more documentation you have, the stronger your case will be if you need to go to court.

If you find that another company or entity is using your trademark, you must act swiftly. Depending upon how egregious the behavior and the specifics of your situation, you may need to move straight to taking legal action, but in most cases sending a simple cease-and-desist letter that puts the infringing party on notice can be enough. In other cases, you may need to engage in negotiation.

If the situation does not resolve quickly, you may need to move towards litigation. The courts will review the evidence that you present to help them reach a determination of the appropriate action. In some cases, they will decide that each organization can continue to use their respective trademarks because they are similar but not the same, and no harm has been done. In other cases, a stronger decision that bars one side or the other from using the mark may be appropriate and may be accompanied by compensation for any harm that’s been suffered, or legal costs.

If faced with a situation where another company is using your trademark, the most effective way to approach the situation is by engaging a legal professional with experience in trademark law. For assistance, contact our intellectual property attorneys today. We will assess the situation and provide you with our assessment of the best approach for you to take.