In general, if you want to utilize a trademark, you must first get permission from the trademark owner. After all, a trademark is a valuable piece of intellectual property that is legally protected from unauthorized usage. It is widely accepted that exploiting another’s trademark for direct commercial gain constitutes trademark infringement. But that isn’t what we’re talking about. Using someone else’s trademark without their consent can be considered a “fair use” in some circumstances. In the following cases, an entity is permitted to use a trademark without prior permission:
- Comparative Use of Trademark
Fair use of a brand is considered comparative use (for the purpose of advertisement) under the umbrella of “healthy competition.” This is only allowed if there is no false information about the product or company being distributed to the public. The goal of enabling this type of trademark usage is to provide the general public with the information they need to make educated decisions about the goods and services they use. Finally, this trademark usage must not be misrepresentative of the trademark, as this may cause potential buyers to get confused.
- Use of a Generic Trademark
Trademark registration was once held for the term “escalator.” Unfortunately for the owner, the term “escalator” became synonymous with all forms of moving staircases over time, and the trademark’s protection was revoked. Anyone may use a trademark once it has become a generic word for a product without fear of trademark infringement lawsuits. This is to prevent a single company from controlling how these generic words are used. If you couldn’t name it toilet paper, how would you describe it?
- Analytical Use of a Trademark
Let us pretend to be a motorcycle fan for the sake of this article. It would be necessary to employ registered trademarks such as Harley-Davidson, Suzuki, and Triumph in order to discuss the various brands and provide a comparison on a personal website. There is no risk of trademark infringement when these trademarks are utilized for this purpose because they are intended for criticism rather than commercial objectives. It is, nonetheless, critical to providing correct information about the brands and their products. Consider contacting a trademark lawyer or agent for clarification on what you can and cannot do if you intend to advertise your products or brand and are considering using another entity’s trademark in the process. Please contact us, and our experts would be happy to assist you with any trademark issues you may have.