What is trademark infringement?

Generally, trademark infringement occurs when:

  1. A person uses a trademark owner’s trademark (or similar trademark) without permission
  2. That person’s use is in commerce, meaning that it’s done in connection with the sale or promotion of goods or services AND
  3. That use is likely to confuse consumers about the source, endorsement or affiliation of the person’s goods or services

The touchstone of trademark infringement is often “likelihood of confusion,” and there are many factors that are considered to determine if a use of a trademark is likely to cause confusion. For example, when a person’s trademark is also used by someone else, but on unrelated goods or services, that use may not be infringement because it may not cause confusion. Which party used the trademark first can often be an important consideration as well. There are also many limits to trademark rights, such as geographic limitations, as well as the ability for someone to use your trademark to lawfully comment on or criticize your goods or services.

Please note that the law in different countries relating to trademark rights and trademark infringement can vary. If you’re not sure if a particular use of a trademark would be considered infringement, you may want to consult with an attorney.

Was this information helpful?