Trademark Infringement & How To Avoid It

by | Apr 13, 2018 | News | 0 comments

When launching a new business or giving your current one a bit of a makeover, you’d be very wise indeed to get in touch with a Buckinghamshire branding agency to discuss the overall design of your new venture – otherwise you could find yourself embroiled in a bitter trademark infringement row, which certainly isn’t very good for business.

Of course, if you do accidentally copy someone else’s design it will be an entirely innocent mistake but you run the risk of an expensive court case, with the affected company potentially claiming loss of money, fame and name recognition, as well as loss of future viable business. Here are a few case studies showing you just how easy it is to accidentally brand your company in a similar way to someone else’s.

Nando’s vs Fernando’s

Portuguese chicken brand Nando’s only recently told an independent chicken shop in Reading to change its branding, as the chilli images, cockerel and name itself were all too similar to theirs. Fernando’s owner Asam Aziz told the press he got his idea for the name of his business from Take Me Out, the dating show that features an island called the Isle of Fernando’s.

Adidas vs… well, everyone, it seems!

Adidas is often in the news where branding is concerned because it’s so dedicated to defending its sole right to the use of its three stripes. It’s had issues with Forever 21, Juicy Couture, ELEAGUE… it goes on. But it seems that the shoe is also on the other foot sometimes, with reports alleging that the brand was sued over its use of the name Iniki for one of its sneakers.

John Lemon vs Yoko Ono

The sale of a fizzy drink called John Lemon was halted after Yoko Ono Lennon stepped in to stop it from using the image of the rock star, round glasses and the phrase “Let it be” in its marketing strategies.

To avoid similar problems, consider meaning, sight and sound when branding in the first place. You can still infringe on trademark even if names aren’t identical. Always conduct an internet search when coming up with a product so you can see if there are already similar names and looks out there. Use Google image search to look for logos that might be too similar as well.

It’s also wise to consider hiring a trademark lawyer so you can start off on the right foot and avoid having to devote lots of time and money to court cases and possible rebranding in the future.

Never assume that a word isn’t trademarked – you might be surprised that something seemingly innocuous could get you into trouble. Did you know, for example, that DC Comics and Marvel both have the trademark rights to the word ‘superhero’? It’s always best to be diligent and do as much research as you can to find out what you can use and what you’re best steering well clear of.