A trademark is any word or symbol that a producer uses to identify the source of goods or services. Trademark law exists to prevent consumer confusion and protect business goodwill by not allowing businesses to misrepresent the source of their goods.
Using someone else’s trademark, or “trademark infringement,” is taken very seriously by all governments that have trademark laws (most of the developed world).
One increasingly common form of trademark infringement is counterfeiting. Trademark counterfeiting is when a manufacturer produces goods that look exactly like the goods produced by the trademark owner, and passes them off as the trademark owner’s goods.
Trademark counterfeiting is a very serious problem, since most consumers will assume that the logo on the products indicates their true source. In addition to misleading consumers, the owner of the trademark is harmed, because the counterfeit goods are often of lower quality than the real ones, which hurts their reputation and business goodwill.
In the United States, the Customs Office can seize imported counterfeit goods. Whoever produces counterfeit goods can be sued by the owner of the trademark. The owner can recover any profits lost as a result of the counterfeiting. Additionally, they can sometimes recover up to 3 times their actual damages (meant as a deterrent), resulting in huge awards.
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Last Modified: 06-12-2012 11:51 AM PDT