How you present your brand is one of the biggest things that should be considered when you set up a business. You want the public to have a good view of you as an entity and it is your brand that delivers this for you. Brands and trademarks are important assets to any company, yet they are not the same thing. All too often, businesses mistakenly interchange these two important assets, however, and this can lead to customer confusion. Take a look at our guide to clearing up the brand versus trademark confusion, so that you can better separate the two in your organisation.
Relatedness of Goods or Services
This is all about whether a customer using a good or service could mistakenly purchase from a different brand believing it to be a brand that they usually purchase from. If a competitors branding is similar to yours then that is a problem because you could potentially lose customers through to them purchasing from your competitor in error. It isn’t so much of an issue, however, if you have similar branding to someone you are not competing with. So, for instance, a business could get away with using similar branding to an organisation selling yoghurt, for example, if you are selling clothing.
Similarity of Marks
This is all about the naming of a brand. Often it is OK to have a brand with a similar name but it can’t be too similar. The court has to be able to rule that it would not be easy for customers to confuse the two brands. This often means that there has to be something significantly different between two brand names. It just makes sense to brand yourself differently too, take a look at our blog piece on the importance of branding yourself to see why.
Similarity In Appearance
You should also try and make sure that the appearance of your brand differs from others established. Some brands may have images that they use trademarked so that they cannot be used by anyone else. For instance, President Trump owns dozens of trademarks to protect his brands.
Similarity In Meaning
Another factor that is likely to cause confusion to customers is the meaning behind the brand and the goods or services that they provide. Could the branding, for instance actually cause confusion about what service is provided?
This refers to the marks that are used with branding, whether that’s an image or a font. Usually, it is acceptable to have similar marks to another brand, so long as the goods or services provided are not similar. Louis Vitton, for instance, won a trademark infringement battle against Louis Vuiton Dak, a Korean fried chicken restaurant. The brand design was similar but these were two different products.
Likely to Deceive
When a trademark case is taken to court the judge usually considers whether the competing branding is likely to deceive. If it is possible that a company could lose custom through customers confusing the two brands, they usually rule in favour of those who own the trademark.