Copyright and Trademark Infringement

Intellectual property is a crucial component of your business. If someone uses your brand, assets, or original materials without your permission, they can cause a lot of harm. Fortunately, our lawyers know how to hold the infringer responsible and recover damages.

What Is the Difference Between Copyright Infringement and Trademark Infringement?

Copyrights and trademarks are designed to protect different types of intellectual property. A copyright is used to safeguard artistic and literary works, such as books, music, movies, and other similar items that may be sold to the general public. Trademarks are used to protect a business brand, logo, or slogan. 

Copyright infringement occurs when someone makes copies of the protected work and distributes them without the owner’s knowledge. Variations of copyright infringement may occur, and the entire work does not have to be copied for it to be considered a violation.

Trademark infringement happens when a company or individual uses branding, logos, or slogans related to another company’s brand to sell products. For example, selling cheeseburgers and fries under the name Burger Queen might be considered trademark infringement.   

What Are Examples of Copyright Infringement?

Examples of copyright infringement include:

  • Duplicating a DVD or video and reselling it for profit
  • Using passages from a book in a new novel and not referencing the original work
  • Recording a movie with an iPhone at a cinema and posting it on YouTube
  • Copying lyrics from a song and using them in new music

There are many examples of copyright infringement. In general, any duplication of a literary or artistic work for personal use or profit constitutes copyright infringement.

What Is An Example of a Trademark?

Trademarks are established by companies seeking to protect their branding. Branding can relate to the colors of the brand, its slogan, or any symbols used in its marketing activities.

For example, the McDonald’s restaurant chain’s “M” is trademarked. Whenever you spot the “M” on a sign, commercial, or other advertising material, it’s associated with the fast-food company. 

Another well-known example is Nike. The company’s trademarked “swoosh” logo symbolizes motion and appears on most of its shoes, clothing, and other products. Nike’s slogan, “Just Do It,” is also protected by a trademark.  

What Is Trademark in Intellectual Property?

A trademark is established by applying to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Several requirements must be met before a trademark can be registered. The trademark format must meet the guidelines established by the USPTO and be attached to specific goods or services. 

No other company can establish a trademark similar to yours, and vice versa. The USPTO will likely deny any application that it deems too similar to another. 

Is Trademark Infringement Illegal?

Yes, trademark infringement is illegal. However, the company that establishes a trademark is responsible for ensuring that no one else copies it. The USPTO does not oversee the policing of trademarks other than to determine that new trademarks do not infringe on previously established ones. 

If a business believes its trademark has been infringed upon, it may file a suit against the offending company to obtain an injunction and damages. 

What Is the Punishment for Trademark Infringement?

The punishment for trademark infringement varies on a case-by-case basis. Minor cases usually result in an injunction letter that requires the offending company to stop using the trademarked material. If trademark infringement is severe, a court may award damages.

Damages for trademark infringement can be as much as $150,000 per occurrence. Sometimes, a court may order a prison sentence for the offender. The court will likely order the offender to pay all attorney’s fees, as well.

Call our Copyright and Trademark Infringement Lawyers

Don't hesitate to seek legal help for your intellectual property matter. Call 312-726-4162 today to schedule a free consultation. Markoff Leinberger LLC serves clients from Chicago and other areas of Illinois.

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