Logo theft is a violation that occurs when one party steals or uses another party’s trademarked logo without their permission. This is a more specific term for trademark infringement, and can take many forms. It typically involves the theft of a trademark or a service mark. For instance, logo theft can consist of:
- One party stealing the template from a company’s business logo and using it for profit
- Creating a new logo similar to the original logo so that it will confuse consumers into thinking that both logos came from the same company
- Taking the logo off of a product and placing it on a different product
Logo theft is very common when it comes to clothing items. Many products are counterfeited solely due to the theft of a company logo. Without the logo, counterfeiters might not be interested in producing a fake product. Many graphic design conflicts also involve some sort of logo theft issue.
Like all forms of infringement, logo theft is met with serious legal consequences. Legal penalties for logo theft can include:
- Jail or prison sentences
- Confiscation of unauthorized products or materials
- Cease and desist injunctions
- Criminal fines
- Civil damages for loss of profits
Logo theft charges may be defended against depending on the facts surrounding the situation. The following circumstances constitute defenses for logo theft:
- The logo did not actually constitute a valid trademark (for instance, it was never used in commerce)
- Likelihood of confusion is low (that is, consumers are clear that the logo identifies a product separate from the one being claimed)
- The original logo or trademark has become generic – i.e., the logo does not specifically identify any type of company product or service
An example of a valid defense in a logo theft charge is that the logo does not identify a specific product or service (generic trademark defense). For instance, one company cannot sue another one simply because the competitor wears the same shade of green uniforms as theirs. Logo theft must involve the unauthorized appropriation of the words or visual design that clearly identifies a product or service.
Logo theft is a serious offense, and can lead to some far-reaching legal consequences. It may be in your best interest to hire an intellectual property lawyer in your area if you have any disputes, inquiries, or concerns involving logo theft. Your attorney can perform legal research for you and advise you on your rights and legal decisions. Also, if you need to appear in court or file a lawsuit, your lawyer can provide you with professional representation during the process.