There are a few ways in which a person or a company can lose ownership rights of a trademark:
- The trademark may be abandoned by the trademark owner.
- The trademark may be diluted by use from others.
- The trademark rights may be severely infringed upon by another person or company.
What Is Dilution of a Trademark?
Dilution of a trademark occurs when the trademark name become synonymous with a certain type of product. Examples of trademarks that have been lost through dilution include: escalator, aspirin, zippers, and kerosene.
How Do I Prevent Dilution of a Trademark?
The most effective way to prevent loss of trademark rights through dilution is to stay informed of the use of the trademark by others and prevent any misuse of the trademark by competitors. This may include having to sue competitors that use your trademark in a general description of their product to stop them from using your trademark that way.
Companies that have successfully kept their trademark rights as a result of aggressively engaging in litigation with others that have misused their trademarks include Kleenex and Xerox, which are two trademarks that still are used in everyday language to refer to the products they sell.
How Can I Lose My Trademark Rights Because of Someone Else’s Infringement?
With trademark rights, you have to be willing to stop other people from committing violations. If someone uses your trademark without your permission and you do not try to stop them in a timely fashion, then the courts may infer that you do not actually own the rights to the trademark.
As with many other kinds of lawsuits, if you do not file your claim of trademark infringement within the time period set forth by the statute of limitations, you lose the right to sue for that specific instance of trademark infringement.
What Can I Do To Preserve My Trademark Rights After Someone Else Has Infringed On Them?
The best thing that you can do to ensure that you keep your trademark rights is to stop people from engaging in behavior that infringes upon your rights. By taking steps to stop others that are infringing upon your trademark rights, you demonstrate to the courts that you are the legal owner of those rights and that you actually have an interest in preserving those rights.
Do I Need a Trademark Lawyer?
Once trademark rights are lost, it is almost impossible to regain them. If you think that your trademark is at risk of being diluted or that someone has infringed upon your rights to a trademark, it is advisable to contact an intellectual property lawyer.
A trademark lawyer will be able to tell you if your trademark is at risk of being diluted or it does appear that a person or a company has illegally infringed upon your rights for a trademark. Also, a trademark lawyer can help you put an end to dilution or infringement, whether it requires merely a cease-and-desist letter to the responsible parties or a court order halting the diluting or infringing actions.