When an entity violates an absolute right attributed to a registered trademark without proper approval from the owner of the trademark, then the said entity may be charged with trademark infringement.  A trademark which is similar or perplexingly the same as your trademark in connection with the goods or services you are promoting then an “infringement” occurs.

An Overview on Trademark Law

Any federal registered trademark may be safeguarded under the Lanham or Trademark Act. The Lanham Act is a law encompassing the federal ruling on trademark law in the United States. The said act forbids actions which include dilution of trademark, bogus advertising, and trademark infringement.

Possibility of a Trademark Infringement Case

A trademark infringement is possible, if you will be able to prove that there is a “possibility of confusion” between your trademark and the purportedly infringing mark. Such possibility of confusion will be determined through a “trademark analysis,” wherein the following items will be analyzed:
* The structure of the mark, both interior and exterior.
* The connotation of the mark. The meaning can be explicit or implied.
* How the mark is pronounced will be reviewed as well.
* The relation of the infringing mark to the goods or services will also be analyzed.
* The impression of the public will also be assessed. Actual test impressions on the consumers may be done.

Trademark Infringement Penalty

The common penalty being given to a party who has been proven guilty of trademark infringement is “injunction.” Injunction is a court regulation wherein it orders the party to avoid doing certain actions such as infringing marks. Contrary to the common belief, injunction is not a monetary judgment.

There are instances that “monetary relief” is bestowed to a winning party. Such monetary respite may include the profit lost by the defendant, the claimants’ sustained damages and the over-all cost of action.

“Trademark dilution,” can be sought by plaintiffs with well-known trademarks. By doing so, the infringed mark will not be further utilized. There are factors to consider for a trademark to be specified as “famous” before an infringed mark will be blurred or tarnished.

Ways to Avoid Trademark Infringement

If you have been accused of trademark infringement, here are some recommended actions to undertake:
1. Do not copy. If you will be making a trademark, make sure that you do it with immense originality. It must be unique.
2. Search. The uniqueness of your trademark may be verified by doing “trademark search.” Primarily, you can scout for used trademarks on the internet. There are a lot of “trademark search website” which can help you on your endeavor. Secondly, spare some time to visit the Patent and Trademark Depository Library or PTDL to browse for possible similar trademarks that you have. The said library is situated to almost every state.

Another trademark search option is to consult with a trademark lawyer that may also be of help with your trademark search. Your lawyer may conduct a “common law search.” It is a type of trademark search where government records are being checked to see if you have a similar trademark.

Ways to Protect Your Trademark

No one wants to be involved in the rigorous process of court proceedings. Hence, as a plaintiff, you need to perform actions to secure your “mark.”
1. Register. It is highly recommended that you undergo a federal trademark registration. With a duly federal registered trademark, you are guaranteed to receive optimum protection with regards to your “mark.”
2. Maintain. You need to maintain your trademark. It is best to use your trademark on all promotion materials such as websites, brochures or even advertising over the television. To inform everyone that a good or service is a registered trademark, use the register symbol "®". However, if the process of registration is not yet completed, then you can temporarily use the symbol TM for products or SM for services.

There is a price for copying someone else’s original work. It is not simply injunction or paying monetary damages to the plaintiff that can happen to you. There are more upsetting instances that can happen to you. You or your company’s reputation is at stake with trademark infringement.

Who would then trust someone who committed trademark infringement* No one.

When creators of artistic and literary works are given legal rights, then copyright describes the process. Literary works that are protected by copyright include poems, novels, plays, newspapers, reference works. Artistic works which include drawings, paintings, sculpture, photograph, advertisements, architecture, technical drawings, and maps. Others are databases and computer programs, musical compositions, choreography, and musical composition.

Copyright is important to the creativity of every people. It gives them incentives either in the forms of fair monetary rewards or recognition. The creators are rest assured that they are protected from piracy or unauthorized copying thus they can distribute their works without fear. In return, it enhances knowledge, entertainment, and culture enjoyment across the globe.

Works that are originally created and covered by copyrights have some basic rights which can be passed on their heirs. They are holding exclusive rights to use or give consent other people to use their works through an agreement. The original creator can authorize or prohibit:
- Reproduction in different forms including sound recording or printed publication.
- Public performances as in musical works or plays.
- Recordings in different forms including videotapes, cassettes, or compact discs.
- Broadcastings via cable, radio, or satellite.
- Translations to other languages or adaptations. One typical example is a novel used in a screenplay.

Most creative works under copyright require financial investment, communication, and mass distribution upon dissemination using different media. It includes publications, films, and sound recordings. The creators are often selling the rights of their works to companies or individuals who can market their works best to get back what they paid for. These payments are independently made based on the actual work usage, known as royalties.

However, the economic rights entitled to them are limited only to fifty years after the death of the creator as what is stated in the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) treaties. Longer limits on time can be also established by the national law. This will enable the creators as well as their heirs to gain financial benefits over a specified time limit. Moral rights are also included under copyright protection. The creators are given the right in claiming an authorship or opposing the changes made harming their reputation.

Copyright and other related rights are given by individual countries through national legislation. Even international treaties applied some national laws to ensure that a number of rights are granted to the original creators based on nondiscriminatory status. The creators can consult the National Copyright Administration or CLEA (Collection of Laws for Electronic Access) WIPO database.

WIPO, an intergovernmental organization is administering lots of treaties internationally which is associated to intellectual property rights, requests, and government advice. However, it is mandatory for WIPO to give non-governmental organizations or private persons legal advice. It is much better to consult a copyright lawyer for specific matters.

Copyright is not dependent on official procedures. Created works are considered copyright protected upon its existence. It was stated in the Berne Convention about protecting artistic and literary works that without formalities, these works are already protected provided that the country is a part of the said convention.

A system for copyright registration is not provided by the WIPO. But many countries have national copyright offices. National laws are allowing registration for artistic and literary works to serve some purposes. Copyright can distinguish work titles, or become a prima facie proof used in courts to solve copyright disputes.

A trademark is a word, device, symbol, name, or combination of any of these elements intended or used in business to distinguish and identify the products of one company or seller from products sold or manufactured by others, and indicate sources of the products. To make it simple, a brand name defines a trademark.

Registration of a trademark is not required by the government. However, several advantages can be given if a trademark obtained federal registration. It includes evidences of trademark's ownership, nationwide constructive notice about the owner's claim, federal courts jurisdiction can be invoked, registration can be a basis to obtain international trademark registration, and registration can be filed with the customs service of the U.S. to prevent infringing of imported goods.

Understanding the distinction between a copyright and trademark is necessary. It really helps.