Have you been accused of selling someone else’s product or using their name without their permission? Have you been accused of infringing a trademark, copyright or patent? These instances can be very costly for small business and can lead to inventory being withheld, funds frozen and business accounts being temporarily suspended while the matter resolves. Swift action can be the difference between resolution and further disputes. We assist clients in quick and proper resolutions of these matters to help get them back to normal operations as quickly as possible.
Notification of Infringement
Usually the first indication that an infringement has occurred will be in the form of a casual or professional email or contact from the trademark owner indicating that they own a mark that you are infringing on and requesting or demanding that you stop using it. If no response or compliance is received, the trademark owner may send you a formal cease and desist letter demanding you stop all conduct potentially infringing against their trademark. It is important to note that these letters provide knowledge of infringement. These letters are also intended to provide knowledge of the infringement. Continued use of the trademark with knowledge that infringement exists can subject you to liability for willful infringement. If the infringement is found to be willful, the damages awarded will be significantly higher. Therefore it is extremely important to address any correspondence received regarding potential trademark infringement.
Alternatively, you may get a notification from a service provider which is hosting or displaying your product or services, such as YouTube, Amazon or eBay, indicating that your product or services have been removed from their site or your account suspended or even banned. Worse, in these circumstances the funds you have earned on these platforms will typically be frozen by a temporary restraining order subject to the ongoing litigation. In this case, the trademark owner may claim that you have infringed on their trademark and request from the court a temporary restraining order, restricting your use of the allegedly infringing works until the case is resolved.
In either case, the notifications should not be ignored and appropriate action should be taken. Even if the trademark infringement claims appear to be invalid, ignoring them all together could subject you to significant liability.
If you have received a Cease and Desist letter, Temporary Restraining Order or summons notifying you of a potential infringement or lawsuit, you should seek legal counsel immediately. Many small businesses and eCommerce sellers find themselves subject to litigation based upon claims of intellectual property infringement and take no action, delayed action or improper action which results in further damage. We assist clients in resolving these lawsuits as quickly as possible to get their business back up and running.
While many of these notices and actions can be challenged and defeated, they should never be ignored. Delayed or non-action can result in serious repudiation by the copyright holder should the allegations be proven true. If none of these notices are complied with, the accused party will often be summoned to court and the accused party will seek, and often be granted, a Temporary Restraining Order in which the court will order the accused party to cease any and all accused infringing action until the court action is resolved, which can be years in some cases.
Additionally, if you have received a DMCA, Cease and Desist letter or Temporary Restraining Order, or summons notifying you of a potential infringement or lawsuit, you should seek legal counsel immediately. Many small businesses and eCommerce sellers find themselves subject to litigation based upon claims of intellectual property infringement and take no action, delayed action or improper action which results in further damage. We assist clients in resolving these lawsuits as quickly as possible to get their business back up and running.
Finally, if no action is taken with regard to a lawsuit, the Defendant may be found in default. When that occurs, individuals can be liable for a significant amount of money, and their accounts and business may have to suspend operation or cease to exist altogether. However, a Defendant’s obligation under this Judgment can be relieved if a Satisfaction of Judgment is filed by the Plaintiff. Proper legal action may help to resolve these matters and eliminate or reduce the financial obligations of a Default Judgment. If you have received a default judgment in relation to an infringement lawsuit, you should seek legal counsel immediately.