Using a trade mark without permission is risky
It could give rise to a trade mark infringement claim. Here's what you need to know.
Words by Dr Martin Douglas Hendry
Trade mark rights are a crucial aspect of protecting a brand and its products or services. In the UK, trade marks are protected under trade mark law, which allows the owner of a trade mark to control the use of the mark and prevent others from using it without permission. In this blog, we will discuss the consequences of using a trade mark without permission and how to obtain permission to use a trade mark.
Consequences of Using a Trade Mark Without Permission
Using a trade mark without permission is considered trade mark infringement and can result in serious consequences. Infringing on someone else's trade mark rights can result in liability for damages and penalties, which can be substantial. Additionally, the trade mark owner may seek an injunction to stop the infringing use, which can be costly and disruptive to business operations. Moreover, trade mark infringement can damage the reputation of a business, as customers may associate the business with a lack of integrity or disregard for the rights of others.
How to Obtain Permission to Use a Trade Mark
Obtaining permission to use a trade mark is a simple process. The first step is to contact the trade mark owner and request a license or permission to use the trade mark. If the trade mark owner agrees, they will provide the terms and conditions of the trade mark usage, which must be followed. It is important to understand the terms and conditions of trade mark usage before using the mark, as any deviation from the agreed terms could result in trade mark infringement. If the trade mark owner does not grant permission, the business may consider using a different mark or creating a new brand.
Defences for Trade Mark Infringement
There are several defences available in trade mark infringement cases, including fair use, honest concurrent use, exhaustion of rights, and statutory exceptions. The fair use defence may apply if the use of the trade mark is for descriptive purposes, such as comparative advertising or commentary. Honest concurrent use may be a defence if the trade mark is used in good faith and there is no confusion between the two marks. Exhaustion of rights may apply if the trade mark owner has exhausted their rights through distribution of goods, and statutory exceptions may apply if the use of the trade mark is for specific purposes, such as for news reporting or for scientific or artistic purposes.
In conclusion, using a trade mark without permission can result in serious consequences, including liability for damages and penalties, an injunction to stop infringing use, and reputational damage. Obtaining permission to use a trade mark is a simple process that involves contacting the trade mark owner and following the agreed terms and conditions of trade mark usage. Understanding the defences available in trade mark infringement cases can also help businesses avoid liability for trade mark infringement. It is important to respect the rights of trade mark owners and obtain permission before using a trade mark to avoid any potential legal or reputational consequences.
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DISCLAIMER: The content within this post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Virtuoso Legal does not take any responsibility for those that use this information and waives any liability for any resulting effect on your personal or commercial circumstances.