Trademark infringement

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Trademark infringement

We just announced our opening of a small microbrewery in a rural town. Within 36 hours, we were contacted by another microbrewery in a large city, same state, stating that our name was infringing on their trademarked brand. We are Trails End Brewing Company, their trademarked name is Trail Point Brewing Company. My question is are we infringing upon their trademark? Thanks

Asked on October 2, 2018 under Business Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You may well be. We are sorry that we cannot be more definitive than that, but there is an element of subjectivity to the determination of when trademark is infringed. Essentially, trademark infringement depends on a judgment call: is the name and are the businesses similar enough that the customers of business A may confuse business A (which has the trademark) with business B (which does not). Elements to consider are the physical proximity and whether you are selling to the same customer base--which in turn depends on where you distribute vs. them (you are in the same state, but if you are on different ends of the state, the overlap in distiribution or customers may be minimal), whether you offer the same or highly similar products (which you do), whether the names are wholly descriptive or generic (which they are not; there is no inherent connectino between the End or Point of a Trail and brewing) since descriptive names are inherently less protectible, and how similar the names sound (which is quite a bit, though they are not identical). There is a reasonable probability your are infringing, but we cannot say 100%. We can say that the likelihood of infringement is high enough that you *should* consult in depth with an intellectual property attorney.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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