A registered trademark owner may allege infringement. The court may then review a mark’s likelihood of confusion with customers. As noted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, businesses could defend against infringement claims by showing the distinctiveness of their marks.
Plaintiff companies, for example, may assert that a defendant company created a logo that closely resembles theirs. A defendant’s logo, however, must reflect the plaintiff’s mark to the extent that customers became confused and mistakenly believed it belonged to the plaintiff.
How plaintiffs may proceed with civil claims
Plaintiffs must supply evidence of their customers’ puzzlement. A defendant, for example, may have created a similar logo to use in a marketing campaign. Evidence may also show an intent to divert customers’ attention away from the plaintiff’s marketing efforts.
The plaintiff may need to show that customers purchased the defendant’s products due to confusion. Revenue losses might show that customers intended to buy the plaintiff’s products but for their bewilderment. The court may conclude customers reasonably believed the defendant’s products belonged to the plaintiff.
The Likelihood of Confusion test
According to the United States Courts for the Ninth Circuit, a jury may review several factors to determine the likelihood of customers becoming confused. The court may, for example, compare the similarities of the two logos to determine how they resemble each other.
A defendant’s intent for creating an allegedly similar logo could also face scrutiny by the jury. If a defendant acted in good faith and had no intention to cause confusion, a judge may find a lack of infringement.
Registered trademark owners could decide to file a legal action claiming another company’s mark caused confusion. A claim could also allege that a loss of profit resulted. A defendant may, however, counter the claim by proving dissimilarities between the two marks.