Trademark protection safeguards the exclusive use of a trademark that has been registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or a trademark that has been established by a business, entity or individual through its use in commerce. A trademark, which is considered legal property, is a symbol, logo, phrase or word that a company, individual or entity uses to identify and distinguish itself and its products.
When a company’s trademark is used by a different company or entity, it is called trademark infringement, which means it violates trademark protection. Through the protection granted when a trademark is registered, the mark’s owner not only has the right to exclusive use of the mark, but can pursue legal action against those who use the mark illegally. A company can also register its trademark with the U.S. Customs Service to prevent the importation of foreign products that infringe on its trademark.
Determining whether trademark protection has been violated and what legal action to pursue is the responsibility of the trademark owner. Those who sue others for violating trademark protection may receive courts order injunctions against violators to stop further trademark infringement. Plaintiffs may also receive monetary awards for damages, loss of profit and legal costs.