Your business’s intellectual property is valuable enough for you to have invested considerable time and money into it. Between conducting a trademark search in Canada, actually creating the mark, and filing to obtain your trademark, you’ve likely put in dozens of hours and substantial funds into protecting your intellectual property. The last thing that you want is for a potential competitor or anyone else to come and take it from you. One way that they do this is through trademark infringement. Part of stopping it is knowing the law and monitoring for potential violations of your own rights. The other part is taking strong legal action to put a stop to it when someone else is using your intellectual property.
What is Trademark Infringement?
Trademark infringement is about more than someone just stealing your trademark. It is about someone using it in a way that creates confusion or mistake about the source of the product. Once registered, you have exclusive rights to a trademark. It is the shorthand that the public uses to associate you with your product. Oftentimes, this is distinctive lettering or symbols.
However, you may notice that someone is using something remarkably similar to yours. There could be some difference, but it is enough to at least sow some doubt. Someone does not have to directly steal your trademark for infringement to occur. It merely must be close enough to cause confusion or doubt. The question will be how close something must be to constitute infringement.
In order to detect trademark infringement, you need to know a little more about the law because someone else will rarely directly try to steal your intellectual property. Instead, there will be enough gray area where you will need to understand the exact law to make an argument why they are infringing on your trademark.
How to Protect Yourself from Trademark Infringement
If you are wondering how to protect yourself from trademark infringement, the first answer is trademark registration. There is no such thing as protection of an unregistered trademark. This is what gives you the legal ability to enforce your intellectual property rights. Without it, there is no evidence that you are the legal owner of the trademark. You could still file a “passing off” lawsuit, but it would be more difficult to prove.
One way to get this process started is to seek out an attorney for advice on Canada trademark registration. They could advise you on whether you can trademark your intellectual property and the process that you need to follow for trademark registration in Canada. This process is not always automatic, and legal help is needed to make it smoother.
You would also turn to the copyright and trademark attorney for the process of enforcing your rights when you have discovered that they were violated. Managing your trademark once you have it is every bit as important as registering for it. One of the keys is to know exactly when your trademark has been infringed, and you could detect this with active monitoring. Infringement matters are not always cut-and-dry, and you need professional help to deal with the complexity.
You may not know whether someone else has actually taken your intellectual property. There could be a perfectly legal explanation for their actions, or they may not have violated your rights. The key is to be vigilant in bringing this matter to an attorney’s attention. The sooner that you speak with a trademark lawyer, the quicker action that you could take to protect what is yours.
What Should You Do if You Catch Someone Using Your Business Trademark?
If you detect that your trademark has been infringed, you could take several forms of action to remedy the problem. The first is to approach the person or company directly to get them to stop. Your trademark attorney could draft a letter to send to the other party, explaining that you have the trademark and how they are violating it. You would direct them to stop the infringement at the risk of a lawsuit that you could file. This is usually a preferred method because it would help you avoid court.
However, some people have reasons for wanting to go directly to court. When that happens, you could legally seek a number of remedies to both stop the infringement and pay you back for damages. The important thing is to get an injunction to stop the stealing of your intellectual property. Then, you could also get an accounting of damages to seek compensation for what you have suffered.
In addition to a trademark infringement lawsuit, there is also the common law tort of “passing off” that you can use to enforce your intellectual property rights. You can also get the same remedies as a trademark infringement suit, including an injunction and monetary damages. Even though the remedies are the same, you should still register your trademark because it evidences your ownership and makes a lawsuit easier.