Trade mark dilution is when a new brand name or sign is quite similar to an already existing and well known registered trade mark. Customers might be deceived, thinking they are getting similar services or products as from the original business, and the new company ‘free rides’ on the popularity and marketing of the established brand.
If you choose a name for your business or product and it dilutes a famous or established trade mark, even if you haven’t done it on purpose, you will have to face serious law suits. Here is how you can avoid being sued for trade mark dilution.
Doing a trade mark search can be quite an elaborate and even expensive process. You will have to look for similar names or signs in unrelated goods or services. You might be naming a new shampoo brand and it might be similar to the brand of a well known chocolate in another country or province.
One way in which to start doing your research, is by asking potential clients whether they are aware of any other products or services with a similar name. Do an extensive test probe, as a name that is not known in one area, might be fairly well known in another.
There are various websites that can help you do a trade mark search. Take some time to find the best and most reliable sources to make use of. If you are still unsure and rather worried about trade mark dilution, it is worth getting the help of a legal representative.
Examples of Trade Mark Dilution
To give you a clear example of what we are talking about when it comes to trade mark dilution, and to see whether you might be infringing someone else’s trade mark, here is an example: In 1995, a convenience store in the United States called HaHa, was ordered by court to change their name, as there was a very famous convenience store chain, with 516 stores, called WAWA. This should give you a clear example of what trade mark dilution entails.
When it comes to signs, the sign really has to be very similar to the original in order for a lawsuit to take place.
In a case where someone is not diluting a trade mark’s distinctiveness, but it is tarnishing the trade mark in any way, by for example using it on a political poster or a t-shirt that refers to the name or sign in a negative way, legal action may also be taken against the guilty party. If the trade mark is used by someone else in the media in a way that it promotes and benefits the company who registered the trade mark, there should be no complains from the relevant company.
Knowing what trade mark dilution is and how to avoid it is essential when choosing a name for your business. Do take some time to do thorough research to ensure you are not infringing anyone’s trade mark.