How Understanding Unregistered Trademarks Can Prevent Infringement

Mar 26, 2020 | Trademark Knowledge

Trademarked logos are important. Whether you’re a private business or a trusted government agency. A logo says a lot and becomes a symbol.

The Chicago Fire Department’s unique logo expresses a century plus of professionalism and dedication to the community. It represents the lives saved and lost.

The logo isn’t trademarked. It is an unregistered trademark. It’s still well known and associated with the fire department.

A coffee shop in Chicago found out that using the Fire Department’s unregistered trademark can still be considered infringement.

Fire Department Coffee

Though this coffee shop is owned by retired firefighters, Fire Department coffee shop in downtown Chicago has no affiliation with the city and its fire department. However, they donate 10% of earnings to funds for injured firefighters and advertise this widely.

It’s easy to see how consumers would assume the coffee shop is affiliated. This confusion is the source of the City’s lawsuit against them for trademark infringement.

The city claims consumers are tricked into thinking the shop donates to the city fire department and is suing for trademark infringement.

The coffee shop said they got the trademark the right way. The US Patent office did register their trademark in 2006!

The company did get a registered trademark on the logo; that hasn’t stopped the city of Chicago.

The City has an unregistered trademark that is well-known and popular with people in Chicago.
It’s protected even though it’s not registered.

Photo by Frank Cone from Pexels

Familiar yet unique

Having a completely unique trademark is not always what a business needs. Using a trademark that is familiar can draw consumers to your business. It can also associate your service or product with the industry’s overall service and quality.

Oppo is an example of a trademark that is familiar to consumers but still unique.

The look and feel of Oppo evokes a more expensive competitor, without actually using that competitor’s distinct element. Oppo reflects quality in its phones but at an affordable price.

Having a trademark that hints at another trademark may work for some businesses, but it’s not a strategy we advise at all. The risk that the other company comes after you is considerable indeed, and even if you win a court battle, it’s not worth the time or money.

Trademarks in Taiwan

When getting a trademark in Taiwan, it’s important to do the necessary checks to ensure you’re not stepping on anyone’s turf and opening yourself up to any potential court case. The ramifications are extremely time-consuming and costly enough they’ll cripple many businesses.

At MUSA, we’re a trademark agent in Taiwan that helps companies do all the necessary checks on trademarks to ensure they get the protection they need, and are with them every step of the way in their journey to registering a trademark that stands the test of time.

For businesses that want to read more on the subject, we recommend taking a look at our comprehensive article on how to register a trademark in Taiwan.

And for those who want to take the next step and get protected, we’re on hand and ready to help you get the protection you need. We’re only a call or email away, head to our contact page here for a free consultation today.

Do you want to talk to us about trademarks? Ask some questions?