There is an array of different situations where you could be involved in a company name trademark infringement. Whether it be your business or another business, accidental or intentional, the game remains the same. More often than not these disputes can be settled with very little ramifications or legal follow-up, however, this is not always the case. Company name trademark infringement can be a murky territory to navigate for any business owner, so today we will go through a few of the more infamous examples of legal battles and finish off with a few of the measures you can put into action to reduce the risk of company name trademark infringement.
What is Company Name Trademark Infringement?
Before diving into how to prevent the issue, let’s first define what company name trademark infringement is. This transgression can occur when two different businesses with different owners own similar titles for the business in question. Confusion can arise with the customer base which can affect the bottom line and lead to legal trouble.
For instance, if a burger bar called itself ‘Big Bob’s Burgers and a similar business opened up later on with the title ‘Big Bob’s Burgerlicious Burgers’, then the former business has a case for company name trademark infringement.
There are many options of how to approach a suspected case of company name trademark infringement, spanning from informal conversational settlements all the way to the superior court for the cases that require a more objective third party. There have been cases however, where big businesses have used it to bully competition out of the way, which brings to light a worrying trend of money accruing creative rights, which is a topic for another day, but we will still explore these cases to further help you secure your own branding.
Case 1: Starbucks Vs Sambucks
One of the cases of goliath winning a case resided in the case of Starbucks Vs. Sambucks in 2005. Sambucks was a very small café in Oregon, USA. The coffee giant has never shied away from fighting smaller businesses with cases of company name trademark infringement being a staple of their history. In this case the matter went to court and Starbucks won, forcing the small businessowner to change the title and all mentions of ‘bucks’ in the entire store. The lesson from this is, don’t have bucks in your title or you’ll be getting a visit from the green mermaid of litigation.
Case 2: Apple Corps Vs Apple Computers
Another case of goliath versus goliath came in the form of the two competing businesses, one being an up-and-coming computer corporation back in 1978 and a well-established record label owned by The Beatles. Apple Inc took Apple Computers to court for company name trademark infringement which began an almost 40 year ordeal that wouldn’t be fully settled until 2010. The first settlement occurred in 1981 where Apple Computers promised to not get into the music industry and would leave Apple Inc to its own devices. That was until iTunes, and the case of company name trademark infringement was ramped up once again. The lesson from this one, be careful with your branding and be sure to have a long-term strategy.
What You Can Do
These were a couple of the examples of company name trademark infringement from the past, you can never be certain of what businesses will pop up in the future with a similar sounding title. The best way to protect yourself is to get legal counsel from the outset of your business, register your domain and build your brand from day one. The goliaths won’t always win, if you have a strong case, the law can always decide.