Trademark and copyright infringement can threaten a product’s market and is a serious offense in North Carolina and the rest of the country. Trademark and copyright infringers will usually deny any wrongdoing. If you are a trademark or copyright owner and you believe that another party is infringing, you may be able to sue for infringement. When proving infringement it’s important to examine the similarities in the overall impression of trademarks and investigate evidence of consumer confusion, the defendant’s intent and other issues vital to the success of trademark actions. At Fisher Stark, P.A. we are experienced with trademark litigation and represent clients in maintaining or defending trademark, trade name or trade dress infringement actions.
When you first believe that another party is infringing on your trademark it may make sense to send a “cease and desist” letter. Litigation can be expensive and this is a less expensive option that will allow you to engage in negotiations to settle the dispute by agreement or license. There are a wide variety of options available, and reaching an agreement on terms that are mutually acceptable without having to initiate proceedings in court may be possible.
Trademark infringement suits are typically filed in federal court, but jurisdiction lies in state court as well. The litigation process can be summarized as follows:
- Plaintiff files complaint alleging trademark infringement and possibly related claims of unfair competition
- Plaintiff may also file a motion for a preliminary injunction to immediately enjoin the defendant from further infringing the plaintiff’s mark and seek an expedited hearing at which the judge may grant the motion, deny the motion, grant the plaintiff expedited discovery or order that the hearing be consolidated with an expedited trial
- Defendant has 20 days to file an answer to the complaint (time may differ in state courts)
- Case enters discovery phase
- Each side serves requests for the production of documents
- Each side serves written interrogatories
- Each side takes depositions
- Either side may move for summary judgment if no material facts are in dispute and the party believes it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law; if the judge grants summary judgment to either side, it often disposes of the entire case and no trial will be necessary
- Case goes to trial
It is not possible to state with accuracy the expense involved in pursuing a trademark infringement action in federal court, as costs vary widely depending upon the complexity of the factual and legal issues, the vigor with which the case is contested, the amenability of the case to disposition by summary judgment and the willingness of the parties to settle the matter prior to trial. It is important to keep in mind, however, that most cases are resolved prior to trial and that not all of the above steps are always necessary.
If you would like further information concerning trademark infringement litigation, or have any questions concerning the above materials, please contact our attorneys. We offer sound and experienced legal advice and representation in trademark disputes for individuals, entrepreneurs, small businesses and established corporations operating throughout Western North Carolina. We are committed to protecting our clients’ trademark and patent rights. For more information and to set up a free consultation please contact our firm at 828.505.4300.
Last updated 7/5/2015