Holding a trademark is a valuable right to many businesses, and the law protects your rights to use the trademark without infringement. If infringement occurs, you have the ability to go to court to hold the person who violated your trademark accountable.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office states that to prove infringement of a trademark, you must prove that your mark is valid and that you have seniority rights over it. You also must prove the infringement is causing you harm.
Proving the validity of your mark
You also need to prove the strength of your mark. You need to show it is unique enough that it is not easy to accidentally replicate it. For example, if your mark is the letter “P” in Times New Roman script, then it is not as powerful as it would be if you used a less common script.
If you registered your trademark, then proving seniority is as easy as showing your registration date. However, you can also show proof of when you first began using the mark.
You must also show that the other mark will likely cause confusion or mislead consumers. For example, if another fast food restaurant started using golden arches in its marketing, it could potentially confuse customers and make them think the marketing is for McDonalds.
Confusion might occur due to the marks looking similar when you and the other company have similar products or are in the same industry. It could also cause confusion if you advertise in the same areas.
If you cannot prove customer confusion, then you must prove dilution. This means that the mark will lose strength or value through the use of the other mark. For example, the company using the mark is in constant legal trouble, which could cause consumers to associate your company with that other company, thus damaging your reputation.