For trademark infringement to occur, there must be a likelihood that consumers will confuse to brands using similar trademarks. The courts have established criteria for determining if there is a likelihood of possible confusion among consumers. No actual specific confusion has to be proven in court to show confusion may occur. The criteria is as follows:
The similarity or strength of the marks.
Similarities of good or services.
Similarity of marks.
Evidence of actual confusion.
Physical proximity of good in the market place.
Defendant’s intent when the trademark in question was created.
Likelihood of expansion of product lines.
Trademark Infringement Lawsuits
Geico v. Google
In this case, the insurance company Geico was upset that the popular search engine Google was allowing rival insurance companies to purchase Internet ad space after Geico is searched on Google. Geico felt this violated their trademark rights but Google disagreed stating there was nothing regarding ad space in trademark law. The court ruled in favor of the defendant Google. However, the court said it would look at the legality of using a rival company’s trademarked name to cause ads to pop up on Google for one’s own company.
McCurry v. McDonald’s
McCurry acted as the defendant against the worldly popular restaurant chain, McDonald’s. McDonald’s did not think the use of their trademarked “Mc” was legal in the McCurry name. The court ruled in favor of the defendant because no one would ever confuse the two restaurants for each other since they have different food, names, styles and customers.
Defenses Against Trademark Infringement
Parody is considered an important aspect of society. Parodies are a form of free speech and can be used as a trademark infringement defense as long as they are not harming the original trademark.