How can you evaluate trademark confusion?

Trademarks are designed to protect a brand's reputation and revenue. That is why companies fight so hard to make sure that they protect those trademarks.

Despite the aggressive measures companies may take to protect a trademark, issues still persist. It isn't uncommon for a brand to discover that some other company is using a trademark that is somewhat similar to their own.

So, how can you evaluate whether or not consumers are likely to experience trademark or brand confusion? Trademark or brand confusion essentially allows one company to "piggyback" off the goodwill consumers have toward the other company. Here are the things that are generally considered:

  • How closely the products or services of the two brands are related
  • Whether the two brands are geared to the same market
  • How similar the marks are in their appearance to each other (shape, color, font, etc.)
  • The phonetic similarities between the two trademarks
  • The similarity of meaning between two marks, especially if one seems to mimic the other
  • The overall likelihood that a trademark will outright deceive consumers

Obviously, these are often subjective judgments. Therefore, it takes considerable strategizing to argue your case when you're trying to protect your trademark. Often the parties involved may directly survey consumers to find evidence that there is (or isn't) a problem with brand confusion.

The best thing to do if you're worried about trademark confusion -- or are just trying to prevent your brand from getting into a legal scuffle in the first place -- is consider talking to an attorney who has experience in intellectual property law. Our attorneys can evaluate your case and help you decide what to do next.

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