For anyone in Florida who has a trademark to ensure they profit from its use and protect it from theft, it is useful to understand when it might have been infringed upon and what options are available. A trademark is used to differentiate one item from another. It also serves as identification and details its source. It can be a word, name, device, symbol or a combination. This ensures that a product is recognizable and there is no confusion for those who seek to purchase it. When infringement has taken place, it is important to act accordingly and within the confines of the law.
Has my trademark been infringed upon?
Once a trademark has been registered with the Florida secretary of state or the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), it cannot be used by others in a way that will result in confusion as to its source or to put forth the impression that there is an affiliation or endorsement with the holder of the trademark. Trademarks can be a brand name for a prominent company; a product that is automatically recognized; a company itself; and a slogan.
It is not uncommon for a smaller company to try and use a trademark to benefit itself. A prime example is the “Super Bowl.” The National Football League makes sure others do not use that term unless is compensated for its use. Many companies trying to sell a product or event that will be useful when the game is about to be played will use the term “big game” or another phrase to avoid being subject to a legal claim. Of course, most companies are not as large as the NFL and need to be vigilant about their trademarks to avoid infringement and seek compensation if it does happen.
Steps to address trademark infringement
A trademark can be diluted if its use by another entity reduces or tarnishes its effectiveness. Therefore, it is imperative to address the infringement immediately based on intellectual property law. If it is a mark registered in Florida, then it will generally take place in state court. If it is a federally registered mark, it can be in federal court or state court. The alternatives include getting an injunction; being financially compensated; or the items being impounded and destroyed. For counterfeit goods, the violator can even face criminal charges. Working hard to create something unique and to trademark it is an achievement. When that is violated, it is wise to take the necessary steps to hold those who infringed accountable. Having legal assistance is imperative to move forward with a case.