Trademark Infringement and Your Business
Sometimes it is just better to be safe than sorry, right? I’d say so, especially with intellectual property. So, if you seek to use a term in your business that might be trademarked elsewhere, look into it first, or else you could end up with a lawsuit!
Intellectual property is not always an easy thing to grasp, especially in the age of computers, the internet and networking. So, here are some general questions to ask in order to determine whether or not your business start-up, new product, etc. is in violation of trademark law:
1 – Is It a Common Word or Phrase? – If the word that you want to use for a product is int he dictionary, it’s probably good to go for your product or service. After all, someone can’t have sole rights to using the word “blue” or something like that. But, phrases and contractions can be a little more difficult to figure out. Look at your local and state competition and see if anyone else is using the phrasing that you’re thinking of using and make sure it’s still open for commercial use.
2 – Is it in Use in Your Jurisdiction – This is a sticky question and might depend on your type of business. Basically, your jurisdiction is your state, to some extent. So, if the phrase you want to use commercially is not in use or registered as a trademark in your state, you should be fine. But, if a business in another state plans to set up a franchise in your area, you could get into some trouble. At that point, you’ll need to consult an attorney to see who has the legal right to use the phrase in your area.
Trademark law, like every kind of law, is not easy to grasp. So, contact a business attorney at Woods, Weidenmiller & Michetti to see where you stand.