eBook Ch. 3
Trademark Infringement:
Yes, You Can Be Liable for a Client's Infringement

ebook Chapter Cover Image "Trademark Infringement: Yes, You Can Be Liable for a Client's Infringement"

Ch. 3: Trademark Infringement: Yes, You Can Be Liable for a Client's Infringement

Trademark

Protects

Is enforced by…

Pitfalls for media companies

Notes

Phrases, branding, logos, symbols, jingles (i.e., creative intellectual property).

Civil courts — third parties can sue you over infringement.

Bigger companies have more resources and can spend more on lawyers to sue for anything close to infringement.

Courts can award treble damages — 3× the amount of actual financial losses — to a plaintiff for trademark infringement.

Trademark laws protect logos, symbols, images, brand names, jingles, and phrases (i.e., intellectual property, or IP) associated with the products or services businesses sell. A word to wise media businesses: tread carefully to avoid accidentally infringing on another company's trademarks.

The Lanham Act is the primary federal trademark law in the US. It prohibits the kind of misleading activities and false advertising that improperly imply that one product is linked to another company's product or trademark.

Media companies can be sued when they produce advertising, designs, or other works that…

  • Use designs and graphical elements that resemble another company's.
  • Have branding, phrases, and text that resemble another company's.

A little borrowed creativity never hurt, right? Think again. Trademark lawsuits are exceptionally expensive. The AIPLA report mentioned earlier showed that even for a trademark infringement lawsuit in which less than $1 million was at stake, legal costs exceeded $325,000 on average.

$325,000+ = average cost of a small trademark infringement suit. Twitter Logo - Click to Tweet

For small media professionals, a $325,000 legal bill is a hard pill to swallow. It's for this reason that nearly 31 percent of lawyers say aggressive trademark litigation is a problem, according to a report from the United States Patent and Trademark Office [PDF] . When lawyers are telling you there are too many lawsuits, you know there's a problem.

31% of lawyers say aggressive trademark litigation is a problem. Twitter Logo - Click to Tweet

Next: Pt. 1: Trademark Case Study - Chobani Yogurt Tagline Churns Up Trouble

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