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What is Trademark Infringement?

If someone uses a trademark, name or logo that is identical, or very similar, to the trademark of another business, and for the same goods or services, that party may be guilty of trademark infringement or of passing off his goods and services as those of the trademark owner.

This can be the case even where the trademark is not even protected by trademark registration, although to minimise the risk of trademark infringement it is crucial that all trade names should be protected by trademark registration wherever possible.

Trademark infringement can certainly occur when someone uses a trademark which is the same as or very similar to a trade mark that has been registered as a registered trade mark in relation to the same goods and services for which it has been registered.

However, it can still amount to trademark infringement to use a trademark that has not been registered if that trademark has become well-known and acquired a reputation and is so similar that members of the public could be misled into to believing that goods or services from one party could originate from party who has previously used the mark. This is known as ‘passing off’ and although it is harder to prove that simple trademark infringement of a registered mark, it is no less serious from a legal view-point. If the registered trademark has a well-known reputation, use of an identical or similar mark, which damages or takes unfair advantage of, such a reputation can also give rise to trademark infringement. It follows that trademark infringement can occur where one party uses a trademark that is merely similar to a registered trademark rather than identical.

If you think that your use of a trademark may be infringing another trademark, whether or not registered, or if you have been contacted by a third party alleging trademark infringement , please contact us without delay, as there are a number tactics or defences that may well be open to you.

Trademark infringement is a complex area of law and one of our experts will be pleased to offer you guidance and advice so please get in touch right away.

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