After coming up with the perfect trademark for your products, you may have filed for federal trademark protection so that only you can use it. However, you may have discovered that a competing company is using a similar trademark for their products. Before you file a dispute, ask yourself the following questions.
1. Is the Competing Company near Your Business's Location?
The first thing you should ask yourself when trying to decide whether another business is infringing on your trademark is about their location. Did you happen to come across a similar trademark online for a company across the country? Or, is the business located just across town?
If you found it online and the business is nowhere near you, they are probably not infringing on your trademark, nor will they interfere with your customer base. However, if a business across town is using a similar trademark to yours, this could be seen as an infringement.
2. Is the Trademark Being Used on Products Similar to Yours?
If you have determined that the similar trademark is close to your business, the next question you need to ask yourself is about the products they are selling. Are the other company's products completely different from yours? Or, are they a direct competitor that is selling products almost exactly like the ones you are selling.
If the trademark is being used on different products, the other company is not infringing on your trademark or ability to attract potential customers. However, if they are a direct competitor who is using a trademark very similar to yours, this would most likely be seen as infringement.
3. Would Customers Easily Confuse the Brands?
The final question to ask is whether or not customers will confuse the two brands. The main reason you do not what a competing company using your trademark is that it would confuse customers. If they know that your trademark looks a certain way and enjoy your products, they will seek out your trademarked products.
However, if someone local is using a trademark that resembles yours, the customers may end up buying their product instead. This potential to confuse the product is another instance where a case of trademark infringement could be made.
After asking yourself the above questions, you may determine that the other company is infringing on your trademark. If so, schedule a consultation with an intellectual property lawyer to have them review your situation and discuss with you the next course of action.