Trademark infringement often involves a mark being used without permission but not always. Sometimes, it just involves a very similar mark being used and harming the reputation of the first. This type of infringement can change the public’s perception of the original mark. They once thought it related to something particular, singular or unique, but the second, very similar mark can make them stop thinking that even when the two are not the same.
This happens in two basic ways:
- Tarnishment: The first mark’s reputation is harmed by the use of the second mark. For instance, a company’s logo stands for quality products that consumers can trust. The second company, under a similar logo, produces inferior products. Consumers now conflate the two marks in their minds and stop trusting the original company to produce quality products, even though they have done so the entire time.
- Blurring: This just means that the first mark is no longer as distinctive. Perhaps it was once immediately recognizable, even at a glance. The existence of the second mark means that consumers who see either one do not immediately know which one they are seeing. This makes it harder for the logo to stand out and may confuse buyers, who will then turn to other, more distinctive brands.
As you can see, these types of issues can harm your company tremendously. They can directly impact your sales, and perhaps more importantly, your branding. They can undo what you have worked toward for years or decades. When this happens, you must know what legal options you have.