Brand loyalty and awareness are very important for all types of business, however, the more consumers recognise a brand, the more likely that brand is to experience infringement by competitors. Trade mark copycats are, therefore, relatively commonplace. Designing a trade mark to look very similar to that used on a competing product is a way to piggyback on the success of a pre-existing company. The user of the copycat trade mark can benefit from the reputation already obtained by the established organisation and can cause the original company to lose profits and to suffer from damage to its reputation.
Registering A Trade Mark
The first step to dealing with trade mark copycats is to make sure that your trade mark is registered in the first place. Although an unregistered trade mark is protected under common law, it is more difficult to enforce and to seek damages. When your trade mark is registered, you are eligible to take legal action against the unauthorised third party and are more likely to enjoy success in claiming for damages and remedies.
Seeking Legal Advice
If you suspect that an unauthorised third party is using your registered trade mark for their own operation, you should seek legal advice to determine the right course of action to take. You will need to collect evidence to prove that the third party is infringing your trade mark first. Should your solicitor agree that you have a case against the infringer, they will be able, in the first instance, to draft a Cease and Desist letter on your behalf to be sent to them. This will ask them to stop using your trade mark immediately and to avoid using it at any future time. In many cases, the receipt of this letter is sufficient to dissuade unauthorised third parties from continuing to use your mark on their products and services. Should the letter prove to be insufficient to prevent the third party from using your mark without your authorisation, your solicitor can then arrange for the proceedings to be taken further to the courts.