The Business Law Blog

Featured Post

Likelihood of Confusion: 5 Examples of Similar Trademarks

Likelihood of Confusion: 5 Examples of Similar Trademarks

When you’re just starting to build your business, your intellectual property is often one of your most valuable assets. That’s why protecting that intellectual property from would-be infringers is one of your top priorities. The problem, though, is that people don’t always understand what constitutes infringement and what doesn’t. That can be due, at least in part, to the fact that the answer isn’t always clear.

Some instances of infringement are clear. If, for example, you have a jewelry company with a trademarked name of Romantic Stones, and another company comes along and starts selling jewelry under the name Romantic Stones, you have a pretty clear-cut claim for trademark infringement on your hands. But what if the other company is going by the name of Romance by Stones? You understandably might be a little less clear on whether or not your intellectual property is at risk.

Even if a competitor is using a word or a phrase that isn’t identical to your trademark, it’s still possible to bring a claim for infringement if you can prove “likelihood of confusion”. In short, this means that you can stop your potential infringer from using the name in question if a reasonable consumer would likely be confused by the continued use of it. Of course this goes the other way too, a company my come at you for the same thing and that’s why you need to do a trademark search before you file any trademark.

A number of factors play into the likelihood of confusion, including how distinctive your name is, how similar the other name is (whether in sound, wording, appearance, or connotation), and how similar you products or services are. If two companies have similar names, but one makes jewelry and the other makes engine oil, the likelihood of confusion is probably low.

There’s no strict rule for determining what is confusing and what isn’t, but looking at trademarks that have been found to create a likelihood of confusion helps shed some light on the issue. The following trademarks have been found by the courts to be too confusingly similar:

  • Magnavox (electrical and sound equipment) vs. Multivox (musical instruments)
  • Hpnotiq (liqueur) vs. Hopnotic (beer)
  • Mr. Clean vs. Mr. Rust vs. Mr. Stain (all cleaning products)
  • Canya (soft drinks) vs. Cana (frozen fruit and vegetable juices)
  • Seycos (watches) vs. Seiko (watches and clocks)

As you can see, similarity and likelihood of confusion can take many forms.

Protecting your intellectual property is serious business. As with anything that might impact your livelihood, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you have any doubt whatsoever as to whether or not someone is infringing on your trademarks by causing likely confusion, you should consult with a New York trademark attorney to determine your rights. The same is true if you’re concerned that you could be accused of infringing on someone else’s trademark by causing a likelihood of confusion.

Intellectual Property Guidance for Growing Businesses

Call us at (212) 537-9209 or schedule a free strategy session today to see what Gouchev Law can do for your business.

Latest Posts

How Your IP Portfolio Affects the Value of Your Business

Many people think of business value as being made up of your tangible assets, things like profits and equipment and real estate. While that may have historically been true for most traditional brick-and-mortar businesses, many of today’s startups and emerging...

read more

Four Common Reasons Business Partnerships Fall Apart

Entering into a new business partnership is an exciting prospect for any entrepreneur. And while it would be great if all businesses were successful, the reality is that many fail for reasons that are avoidable. Before things get off the ground, you should consider...

read more

How to Defend Your Intellectual Property From Misuse

For many emerging companies, the most valuable assets are ones that aren’t tangible. It’s easy to think of property as only the physical things you use to build your business. In reality, though, the most important building blocks for your company are usually the...

read more

LLC Operating Agreements: Non-Competes

So, you’ve decided to form an LLC and turn your dream into a legitimate business. By now, you’ve probably read lots of advice on the steps to you need to take to make your LLC official, including drafting an Operating Agreement. Most resources, however, don’t give you...

read more

Build Your Vision Today

Some clients are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. Whichever you are, we’re here to help you continue the greatness.

FREE STRATEGY SESSIONBook A Free Strategy Session

Logo Header Menu