Labels and Trademark Infringement

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| April 17, 2008

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You asked your legal, copyright, and trademark questions, and Jean has answered! All questions are culled from the comments section attached to the original ‘Ask Jean’ post. We invite you to ask more questions.

Jean,

We own the trademark for a fashion label in the work form and stylized form. We have been trading as this trademark for over 30 years. However recently another company released a new fashion brand with the same name except they changed one of the letters from an n to a l (the fourth letter).

Do we have grounds to sue them and make them pay financial compensation for this since our trademark covers all fashion classes, including all of those they are involved in. How is the compensation generally agreed upon, and how much should we expect?

Many thanks for your help.
James

Dear James,

Changing a letter in a name is not enough to avoid trademark infringement. It sounds like you have a very strong infringement case. If you have a federal trademark registration for your mark, you can easily stop the infringing use. If you don’t have a registration, you can still stop the use, it just requires more proof. Damages in trademark infringement are generally based on the profits from the sale of the infringing work and if you can show that the infringement was willful, those damages can be trebled. Consult a trademark lawyer to have a cease and desist letter written to the infringers and to hopefully negotiate a settlement to avoid litigation.

Best,
Jean

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