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Does your trademark create a likelihood of confusion?

On Behalf of | Feb 15, 2023 | Trademarks

Registering trademarks for your business is an important part of the branding process. A trademark is a visual or written representation of your organization that can help people locate your company or its products within the marketplace.

Many new and growing companies experience an intellectual property protection delay during the trademark application process. And eventually, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) can potentially deny any application where there is an existing trademark that is identical or similar enough that the new trademark would create a likelihood of confusion.

The USPTO actually employs a very broad definition of what constitutes the likelihood of confusion, which means that even designs that you think are original may not be eligible for use as a trademark per USPTO standards.

The likelihood of confusion involves numerous considerations

Obviously, your trademark would confuse consumers in a situation wherein it is the same overall shape, design and size as someone else’s similar trademark design. That includes a scenario involving similar company names displayed in different fonts or where one includes a very similar design.

However, visual similarity is only one of the considerations. Auditory similarity is also a factor. If people reading your trademark aloud might confuse your brand with another company that has an existing trademark, there could be a risk of confusion. Even spelling differences won’t matter in such a case.

The USPTO will also consider how similar the businesses are when analyzing a conflict between two trademarks. If there is some similarity but the organizations operate in dissimilar industries (think Delta Airlines and Delta faucets), there may not be much reason for concern about consumers confusing the two brands.

Securing a trademark doesn’t have to be a nightmare

Although it is frequently quite challenging for a new business or a growing organization to formally register a trademark, the process can be easier with the right help and perspective. Rather than getting stuck on a specific design and fighting over the USPTO’s response to your initial application, it may be a more pragmatic response to instead make adjustments than to insist on design elements have could confuse consumers.

Bringing in the help of an intellectual property and trademark lawyer can speed up the trademark application process and eliminate a lot of the busy work that it might otherwise require from your organization.