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Supreme Court rules showing willful infringement not necessary

| Jul 17, 2020 | Intellectual Property, Trademarks and Copyrights

New York residents and businesses may be interested in reading about a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding trademark law. It ruled that a plaintiff may still win a profits remedy without showing that the defendant willfully infringed on the company’s trademark.

According to the National Law Review, the case of Romag Fasteners, Inc vs. Fossil, Inc reached the court. Romag, a company that has patented a fastener sold under the name ROMAG, had licensed its use to Fossil for handbags. After eight years of a successful partnership, Romag discovered that another snap fastener was being used that had the ROMAG logo printed on it.

Romag alleged that Fossil did “little to guard against this practice.” They then sued Fossil and some of their retailers for trademark infringement for using the fasteners and falsely representing them as Romag. Although successful in the suit in 2014, Romag didn’t get a $6.8 million award from Fossil.

The recent Supreme Court ruling found that, “A plaintiff in a trademark infringement suit is not required to show that a defendant willfully infringed the plaintiff’s trademark as a precondition to a profits award,” Justice Gorsuch wrote for the Court. The resulting decision for future infringement cases, such as this, is that the plaintiff is not required to prove a defendant acted willfully, in order to recover profits.

Trademark infringement and theft of an intellectual property is serious. An attorney who is versed in this type of law might be a helpful person to consult if one feels that a lawsuit might be needed. When people’s material has been used without permission, their rights can be enforced and protected.

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