If you’ve got a business idea you’re dying to bring to fruition, then spending a good chunk of your time talking to trademark lawyers may not seem like the best (or most glamorous) use of your time. Beverly Hills litigation attorney, The Rogson Firm, and a long list of other experts will tell you, however, that it’s a vital part of the process if you want to avoid some of the serious monetary consequences that might come with getting implicated for trademark infringement.

It might seem like a far-flung possibility, but take a bit of time to inform yourself of the severity of such an allegation and the potential negative outcomes, then ponder whether it’s the type of litigation risk you’ll want to take.

What Counts As Trademark Infringement?

The United States Patent And Trademark Office, the entity who basically wrote the book on trademark rules, defines infringement as the “unauthorized use of a trademark or service mark on or in connection with goods and/or services in a manner that is likely to cause confusion, deception, or mistake about the source of the goods and/or services.”

This includes things you might expect, like Apple aggressively protecting the ownership of their logo and brand name, but also includes examples that might surprise you, like Marvel and DC Comics coming after other publishers over the use of the word “superhero.” In the end, what counts as trademark infringement may be broader than what you initially expected, so it’s best to stay aware of cases that skirt the line and to know what might happen if you’re suspected of infringing.

What Happens When You’re Sued For Trademark Infringement

If someone suspects you of infringement, they might lead with a cease and desist letter, but it’s also possible they’ll head right to civil action (a lawsuit).  Depending on the circumstances, they’ll be taking you to either state or federal court, where they’ll attempt to prove that you did indeed infringe upon their trademark.

If they’re able to prove their case, then the consequences will be coming. It might be as simple as you having to discontinue the use of their mark, but in more blatant cases, there’s a chance that you’ll have to forfeit some of the profits you’ve made from using the infringed upon mark, or provide monetary relief to the aggrieved party.

Said “monetary relief” may include profits, damages sustained by the other party, the cost of legal fees, and anything else the court deems necessary. It goes without saying that avoiding this outcome is your best course of action, so be sure you know the rules and know how to avoid being accused of trademark infringement.