Roger E. Naghash is an established Long Beach, California, trademark lawyer dedicated to protecting the intellectual property rights of creators in Los Angeles County and other areas of California. Mr. Naghash has successfully represented numerous inventors, authors, and designers in intellectual property cases, protecting their original work against trademark violations.
A trademark refers to any word, symbol, or phrase used to identify and distinguish the product of a particular seller or manufacturer. The distinctive “mark” used to identify a product or service has value because it fosters recognition and familiarity among consumers. Trademarks likewise give manufacturers an incentive to invest in the quality of their goods, so that consumers will “trust” the brand and choose their products over those of competitors. Nike, for example, has a “swoosh” that distinguishes it from other running shoes; McDonald’s has the “double-arch” that makes it stand out from other fast food providers; Coca-Cola also bears a trademark that sets it apart from other types of sodas. Examples of other trademark devices include:
- Product shapes
- Pictures or drawings
- Combination of letters and design
In order to be a trademark, the mark must be distinctive, or capable of identifying a particular good. Arbitrary or fanciful marks like “Kleenex” or “Apple” bear no inherent relationship to the underlying product but are nevertheless capable of identifying the product. Because they are so distinctive, these marks are given a high level of protection. The same is true of “suggestive” marks that evoke or hint at the underlying good. “Descriptive” marks tell consumers something about the product, but are only protected if they acquire a “secondary meaning.” This occurs when the public primarily associates the mark with a particular producer rather than the product itself. Lastly, “generic” marks like the term “lotion” receive little to no trademark protection because they are used to identify a general category of products.
Trademarks are governed by state and federal law. The main federal statute is the Lanham Act, which was enacted in 1946 and codified in Title 15 of the United States Code. 15 U.S.C. §1114 gives parties that own the rights to a particular trademark the right to sue subsequent parties for trademark infringement. The legal standard is “likelihood of confusion.” If the use of the trademark is likely to confuse consumers as to the source of the goods, there may have been an infringement. For example, the use of an identical mark to sell the same product may mislead consumers into thinking a certain manufacturer makes the good, when it is actually made by a competitor. This gives the competitor an unfair advantage could constitute infringement.
“Dilution,” on the other hand, occurs when someone “blurs” or “tarnishes” the distinctive quality of a “famous” mark. This happens when the mark is either identified with dissimilar goods or associated with inferior products. Plaintiffs who prevail in trademark infringement or dilution suits are entitled to several remedies. Courts often award injunctions barring further use of the trademark. The trademark owner is also entitled to monetary relief, including the defendant’s profits, damages, and court costs. Damages may be trebled where there is a showing of bad faith.
If your trademark has been diluted or infringed, an experienced Orange County trademark attorney can help. Roger E. Naghash has helped numerous manufacturers and sellers protect the distinguishing marks that identify their goods. We can help you obtain trademark protection for your valuable marks, whether they are arbitrary, suggestive, descriptive, or generic. At the Law Offices of Roger E. Naghash, we believe that no one should profit illegally from your creativity and hard work. That is why we dedicate our practice to protecting your rights and defending you against other intellectual property violations. Contact us at (949) 955-1000 for a confidential consultation.