Establishing and maintaining a strong brand identity is essential to success in the business world. With the rise of counterfeit goods and deceptive advertising, protecting your brand is more challenging now than ever.
Fortunately, the Lanham Act, a federal statute, provides businesses with several mechanisms to protect their trademarks and to combat unfair competition. In this article, we will discuss the different provisions of the Lanham Act and how they serve to protect your intellectual property and reputation.
Overview of the Lanham Act
The Lanham Act, also known as the Trademark Act of 1946, is a federal statute enacted to protect consumers and to promote fair competition. The Lanham Act governs trademarks, service marks, and unfair competitive practices and provides business with powerful tools to protect their brands and reputations.
Different Claims Available Under the Lanham Act
- Trademark Infringement: Someone is using an identical or similar mark to your registered trademark resulting in confusion among consumers.
- Counterfeiting: Someone is using an identical or substantially indistinguishable version of a registered trademark in order to deceive purchasers into believing they are buying the real thing. Think of a street vendor selling sunglasses, purses, or watches that have expensive brand logos but are not the real thing.
- Trade Dress Infringement: “Trade dress” refers to the visual characteristics of a product or packaging that indicate the source of the product to purchasers. Think of unique shapes, sizes, and colors that uniquely identify a brand. The “look” of the product.
- Unfair Competition: This is a broad claim that encompasses deceptive or wrongful business practices that provide unfair advantages over other competitors.
- False Association: Someone is making misleading or false representations that suggest to consumers an affiliation or association with another company.
- False Designation of Origin: Someone is making misleading or false representations regarding the source or origin of good or services, causing confusion among consumers.
- False Advertising: Someone is making misleading or false representations regarding the nature, quality, or characteristics of goods or services.
- Trademark Dilution: This claim is reserved for famous, distinctive marks and applies where a famous mark is being used by another, resulting in consumer confusion.
- Cyberpiracy: Occurs when someone “registers, traffics in, or uses a domain name” that is identical or confusingly similar to a mark; requires that the infringer “has a bad faith intent to profit” from their use of the mark.
The Lanham Act is a robust tool for businesses to protect their brands and reputations. The above-mentioned claims are some of the options that businesses have in varying situations in which their brands are threatened. There are many complexities and nuances to the Lanham Act and its respective provisions, including the different types of remedies available for different claims, which we discuss in a separate blog. If you believe your business has been harmed by trademark infringement or other unfair competitive practices, or, on the other hand, if you find your business defending against Lanham Act claims, call our Office at 703-535-7809 to speak with one of our Unfair Competition Attorneys. Our Office represents both Plaintiffs and Defendants in Lanham Act cases.
*This article is not intended to be legal advice and is for informational purposes only. Past results do not guarantee future outcomes. If you believe you have a legal issue related to your trademark or other intellectual property, unfair competition, or other business-related matters, you should consult with an attorney.