6 months ago
What is Trademark Infringement and What Should I Do When it Happens?
A trademark is a sign that businesses use to distinguish their goods or services from those of other businesses. It can take the form of letters, words, names, signatures, numerals, figurative elements, brands, headings, labels, stickers, shapes, and colours, or any combination of these elements. It adds value to your company and allows customers to quickly identify and remember your brand, products, and services.
Trademarks must be registered in order for your company to have exclusive use of them. By registering your trademark, a ® symbol will be added next to it, indicating that it has been registered by a company and will be protected for ten years from the date of filing. You can renew your registration when it expires. After registering your trademark, you will be able to protect your market share by discouraging others from using it, licensing it to third parties, selling it for a fee, or using it to raise equity.
However, other businesses may use similar signs for their goods and services, potentially confusing the public and stealing your business or tarnishing your reputation. This is also referred to as trademark infringement.
What is Trademark Infringement?
Trademark infringement is the unauthorised use of a registered trademark, such as a company’s logo or brand symbol, in a way that may cause consumer confusion, deception, or mistake about the source of the goods and/or services.
The Trade Marks Act protects those who have registered their trademark in Singapore, and parties who use a registered trademark without the owner’s permission may face legal action. Trademark infringement is considered a criminal offence that will result in harsh penalties such as getting the goods seized, a fine of up to $100,000 and imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both.
What Should I Do If I Suspect an Infringement of my Trademark?
1. Gather Evidence of Trademark Infringement
In order to support your trademark infringement claim in court and win your case, you must provide evidence to prove the following
- You own a valid trademark and your rights have priority over the offender
- The offender’s mark is likely to cause confusion among the public
- The similarity of both marks
In addition to the evidence you present, the court will consider whether the offender’s goods and services are similar to yours, how and where the goods and services were advertised and sold, purchasing conditions, the offender’s intent in using the mark, and the strength of your trademark.
Such evidence may be difficult to obtain on your own, but you can hire trademark investigation services to assist you in investigating the infringement and gathering evidence.
2. Seek Legal Counsel
To begin legal proceedings for trademark infringement in Singapore, you must file a writ of summons and a number of other documents, just like any other court proceeding. Legal procedures and trial preparation may be lengthy and complicated; seek legal counsel to ensure compliance with court rules and that all required documents and evidence are in place.
3. Issue Letter of Cease and Desist or Letter of Demand
Prior to the initiation of legal proceedings, trademark owners can work with a lawyer to issue a Letter of Cease and Desist or Letter of Demand to the offender to either ask the offender to stop the illegal activity, in this case, trademark infringement, or to demand compensation for any losses suffered. If the letter does not deter the offender from committing the crime, legal action may be taken.
If you notice another person or business using a mark identical to your trademark and selling goods and/or services related to your business, you should take action immediately. If an infringer uses a registered trademark continuously for 5 years without being stopped by the trademark owner, it may be deemed that the owner has given consent to such use, allowing the infringer to defend himself on the basis of the trademark owner’s lack of action or protest.
Need help with trademark investigations? CDiC Consultants deploy resources to successfully help our clients collate the evidence they need to win their case. We will work closely with you to find the right solution and help return justice to you. Get in touch with us for more information.