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California Company: Trading on Our Good Name is Trademark Infringement

A trademark is an important part of growing a company's market presence. For companies that have cultivated a strong brand reputation among consumers, it is hard to understate the value of a trademark's integrity.

When a company fears that some other business or individual is damaging their trademark, a trademark infringement lawsuit can be a viable solution to the problem. A recent high profile case out of California is a good example of what a potential trademark infringement claim can look like.

California Footwear Company Wants to Stop Under Armour from Using "G Defy"

California shoemaker Gravity Defyer Corp. has successfully launched several lines of shock-absorbing footwear bearing its G Defy trademark. According to Gravity Defyer Corp., the G Defy name has been used to advertise its pro-sport footwear since 2006, and the company originally filed its G Defy trademark in July of 2009.

Needless to say, some eyebrows were raised in the industry when athletic apparel giant Under Armour began marketing a women's running shoe with foam cushioning under the name "Micro G Defy." In an official company statement, Gravity Defyer Corp. accused Under Armour of intentionally creating a similarly named product in an effort to mislead consumers and "substitute its product for that sought...through search engines and in various online and social media outlets."

Gravity Defyer filed a trademark infringement suit against Under Armour on March 25 in federal court. The pending lawsuit seeks to stop any further use of the G Defy name.

Consumer Confusion is the Hallmark of Trademark Infringement

A trademark is essentially a brand name; it can include any word, name, symbol, device or combination thereof that is used to distinguish the goods or services offered by one business from those offered by others; a trademark identifies the source of goods or services. Although federal registration of a trademark is not mandatory to enforce trademark rights, it does have many benefits.

Generally, the use of another company's trademark or a similar mark in connection with the sale of goods or services constitutes infringement if it is likely to cause consumer confusion as to the source of the goods or services. This confusion can be damaging to the trademark holder in several ways. For example, the trademark holder may lose business when consumers looking for its products mistakenly buy those of the infringer. Or, if the infringer makes inferior products, some consumers may assume that these items were in fact produced by the trademark holder and stop giving business to the trademark holder based on the erroneous belief that their goods are of low quality.

Types of Relief Available in a Trademark Infringement Action

In the recent case out of California, Gravity Defyer Corp. seeks to stop Under Armour from continuing to use the G Defy name. This is called "injunctive relief," and if granted in a trademark infringement suit, means the court will order the defendant to stop using the trademark.

Monetary relief may also be available in a trademark infringement suit. The infringer could be forced to pay the damages sustained by the trademark holder, the profits it accumulated through use of the trademark and the costs the trademark holder sustained in pursuing the court action.

Contact an Intellectual Property Attorney About Your Potential Infringement Claim

If your business has found itself in a situation similar to Gravity Defyer Corp., you should contact an intellectual property attorney immediately. A trademark infringement suit can protect the integrity of your business and its reputation, and may help you recover revenue lost to an infringing party.