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Is Trademark Infringement a Crime?

F. Michael Ayaz

When it comes to running a business, you have a lot to think about. There are hundreds of rules, regulations, and laws that dictate how a company can be run. These laws protect the employees and customers of an establishment and help to make sure that no one is taken advantage of.

Following all of the necessary rules for your company is a full-time job. You must constantly be aware of what is going on and keep yourself informed of any legal changes that occur. One such legal category is trademark law. It is important to stay on top of your company’s trademarking and ensure none of your trademarks infringe on another company’s intellectual property.

Following trademark law is no small feat. Every detail of a trademark can be scrutinized to identify infringement. This leads many business owners to panic about the legal implications of any inadvertent trademark infringement that may be present in their company. Fortunately, this panic is not necessary.

Punishments for Trademark Infringement

As of right now, it is unlikely that a person will go to jail over trademark infringement. Most of these cases occur as coincidences or are ultimately not harmful enough to either company to warrant a large amount of action. Usually, the infringer gets a cease-and-desist letter and the opportunity to stop using the trademark before further damage occurs.

When the offender does not stop using the trademark or wishes to contest the claim, the court gets involved. A judge assesses the trademarks and sees if they fit the criteria for trademark infringement. If they do, further legal action can occur.


If the court finds that you have committed trademark infringement, you may be required to pay restitution to the original trademark company. This sum will likely consider the amount of money you made as the result of the trademark, as well as the amount of money that the other company lost because of your company’s activity.

The damages for these offenses can be as much as $150,000 per infringement. If you’ve used the trademark many times or have gained a significant amount of money, you could be facing a significant sum. Few companies can afford claims like these, as they damage your finances and your reputation.

Prison Time

Prison time is possible for trademark infringement if you continue to use the trademark after a cease-and-desist letter or after an injunction from the court. Ignoring the court’s orders is a serious crime, and this is often what lands business owners in prison. If you listen to the court’s ruling and adjust your behavior after you are made aware of potential trademark infringement, though, you likely won’t have an issue.

Avoiding Trademark Infringement

The best course of action is to avoid trademark infringement altogether. The trademark office will not necessarily enforce trademark law, so it’s up to you to make sure you are not infringing when you submit your trademark. The best way to do this is to hire a trademark attorney. With legal help, you can create a trademark that is unique to you and avoid any potential issues.

Another great way to avoid trademark infringement is by hiring a graphic designer or creative team to make your trademark. The more unique your trademark is, the less likely you’ll run into trademark infringement issues. If you opt for a basic trademark, there’s a higher likelihood that your trademark will overlap with another company’s.

It is important to begin your trademark journey by doing industry research. By researching competitors in your industry, you can better avoid making your trademark similar to theirs. Your graphic design team can help you to create something new that does not overlap with your competition.

It’s also helpful to do research in local markets. If you offer a certain product, go to different stores in your area to look at the other versions of the product that are sold there. You may have more wiggle room if you’re a small, local business because you only have to worry about your own industry rather than trademarks from around the country.

Hiring an Attorney

When it comes to business law, it’s always important to hire an experienced attorney to help. As mentioned, your business must follow a significant number of rules and laws, and it can be difficult to track all of them. When you hire an attorney, you can be sure you are protected and following all laws that are present in your industry. This can be a significant relief for business owners who feel overwhelmed by the number of regulations they must follow.

Having an attorney is especially important during the beginning of a company’s lifespan because this is when you decide on trademarks, branding, and other defining factors. With an attorney on your side, you can be sure you aren’t infringing upon any other company’s property and following trademark law. What’s more, you can save yourself a significant amount of time and heartache by verifying the legality of your branding from the beginning, rather than waiting for a claim to arise.

Trademark infringement is a serious issue, though it’s not treated like a normal crime. A lot of your punishment will have to do with how you react when another company files a claim. If you amend your ways and stop using your trademark, penalties are minimal. However, if you ignore the claim and continue to use the trademark, you could find yourself in a significant amount of trouble with the law.

Contact Blake & Ayaz for Trademark Law

It’s essential to work with a law firm that specializes in trademark and business law. Here at Blake & Ayaz, we focus on helping businesses of all sizes follow all the laws and regulations of their industries. We specialize in trademark law, and we can help you navigate any situation that may arise, no matter what stage of the process you are in.

For more information on what we do and how we can help you, contact us today.

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