Many companies and individuals do not know what steps should be taken when sued or threatened with a lawsuit for trademark infringement. Most are caught by surprise and unprepared, and must develop a strategy to defend their rights on short notice. Additionally, a trademark infringement lawsuit can be a complicated and expensive endeavor.  A seasoned trademark attorney can provide you with clear answers, knowledgeable counsel, and the effective advocacy needed to defend you and protect your rights.

A trademark lawsuit begins when the trademark owner files a complaint with a court alleging trademark infringement. Among other things, the complaint sets forth the allegations that form the basis of the lawsuit. Either before or at the time a complaint is filed, the trademark owner or the owner’s attorney may also send you a letter or otherwise contact you and demand that you take certain actions, such as ceasing use of your mark. Receiving notice that another party is claiming you have infringed its trademark is not only alarming, but knowing how to respond and the next steps to take can be very daunting.

Your duty to respond to a complaint is triggered when the complaint is formally “served,”, along with a summons, which is a court notice requiring you to appear before the court and respond to the complaint by a certain date. If you fail to timely file an appropriate response to the complaint, the court could ultimately enter a default judgment against you and order you to pay damages or perform other remedial actions. It is therefore important to contact an attorney as soon as you receive notice of a trademark infringement lawsuit or threat of a lawsuit to ensure that you take the necessary steps to defend and protect your rights.

These are only the first steps of a litigation process that can be very complicated. If you are sued for trademark infringement, an attorney experienced in trademark litigation can assist you in deciding the best course of action, which may include one or more of the following options:

  • Challenging the claimed trademark;
  • Denying the claim of alleged infringement;
  • Asserting a defense to the alleged infringement; and/or
  • Negotiating a settlement of the lawsuit.

When considering options, keep in mind that litigation is usually expensive and time-consuming, but may be necessary to defend and protect your rights.