Can my wesbite be shut down for trademarket infringment?

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Can my wesbite be shut down for trademarket infringment?

The domain name of my website has the words “Consumer Reports” in it. In total the website is “familyconsumerreports.com”. There is a very popular website called “consumerreports.org”. Can they take legal action against me for some type of trademark or copyright infringement, and does the fact that they are a nonprofit make a difference? Other than the name issue, my content is completely original. So I don’t know if this is a problem at all.

Asked on May 7, 2012 under Business Law, Georgia

Answers:

Kenneth Avila / Kenneth Avila, Patent Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The area of law raise here is Trademarks.  Many people think of logos that identify a company when considering trademarks.  However that is just one a small part of the laws regarding trademarks.  The Aspen outline on Intellectual Property describes trademarks as follows:  “Trademarks permit consumers to identify the source of goods or services. The purpose of trademark law is to ensure that consumers are able to rely on marks in exercising their purchasing preferences by prohibiting competitors from using marks in a way that confuses consumers about the source, sponsorship, or affiliation of goods or services.”.  Here you are presenting to the consumer a service called "familyconsumerreports.com". If consumers believe that your site is endorsed or managed by consumerreports.org then you would be infringing. You say that your content is original so I will assume that familyconsumerreports.com would have very different logos and that the website would differ by color and layout from consumerreports.org. The more different then the less likely a consumer would believe your website is somehow related to consumerreport.org. This is the general rule. However the rules are different for "famous marks". These marks receive additional protection in that their marks are protected from being "diluted" by other marks. As you can see your question requires a rather complex analysis.

Can your website be shut down for trademark infringment? The answer is "Yes" regardless if the trademark owner is a for profit or nonprofit business. I would recommend that you consult with an Intellectual Property attorney and get a proper analysis done. The money you will spend on the analysis will be well spent compared to the money you will be losing if you are found to be infringing on a trademark.


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