What are the Penalties for Trademark Infringement?

September 10, 2019

Trademark infringement is one of the lesser talked about white collar crimes, in part because the penalties for trademark infringement are almost nonexistent in the legal world. Still, it is important to understand trademark law, your rights, and how misusing or adopting a registered trademark can affect you personally as well as your business.

What Is Trademark Infringement?

A trademark is a symbol, word, or phrase that is legally registered and used as identification to represent a company or product. Trademarks are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. When someone owns the trademark to a symbol, word, or phrase, and you use it knowingly or unknowingly, this constitutes trademark infringement.

First Steps

If you are in violation of a trademark, your first indication of trouble is likely going to be a cease and desist letter. This letter may come directly from the company that owns the trademark, or it may come from their legal team. The letter is not the same as a lawsuit or criminal charges. It is simply notice that the company that owns the trademark has caught wind of your use of it, and they are telling you that they own the trademark and you must stop using it. At this point, if you stop using the trademark, there are likely to be no other consequences or penalties.

What Happens Next?

If you don’t feel that you violated trademark law and you believe that your use of a symbol, word, or phrase should not be limited, you may want to keep using the trademark. If you do so, you could be facing a civil lawsuit and criminal charges. In reality, very few people face criminal charges or penalties for using a trademark, even though it is technically against the law. You could, however, be held responsible for financial losses due to your use of the trademark, as well as other financial civil penalties.

If you have been accused of trademark infringement, you need to have experienced legal representation to help you with your case. Contact us today for more information or to schedule your consultation.

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