What is the scope of protection for a trademark?

UPDATED: Jul 19, 2023Fact Checked

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Jeffrey Johnson

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 19, 2023

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UPDATED: Jul 19, 2023Fact Checked

For specific goods like perfume, soap, or automobiles, the scope of protection for a trademark should be narrowly applied to the marketing area of the product. However, with licensors licensing famous trademarks for a plethora of products, that narrow scope of protection has expanded broadly in recent years. Are a perfume trademark and an automobile trademark likely to cause confusion if similar names are used? As an example of this kind of potential trademark confusion, Harley Davidson Motorcycle Company is licensing its name for a perfume.

What makes a trademark official?

Under current law, a trademark is any distinctive image associated with a product or service. For instance, Apple has a trademark of a picture of an apple. When a customer walks through the electronics section of a store, they automatically recognize the trademark of the Apple Company.

The mark must also be functional in order to be protected. So for example, a single flower without any connotation to a product or company would not be considered very functional as a trademark. However, if that same flower logo has the company name written above it, then the entire logo becomes functional, expressing the company through a distinct symbol.

Can trademark laws apply to a website?


In the case of Blue Nile, Inc. v. Ice.com, it was determined that there is a possible consideration for applying a trademark to a website’s overall feel and theme. However, the court requires that the trademarked parts of the website be non-functional and distinctive. So the overall layout of Google’s home page, including their logo, could be arguably trademarked.

If someone else has a trademark that is strikingly similar to yours and you feel it may cause confusion with your customers, the person might be infringing on your trademark. You may want to verify your instincts by contacting an intellectual property attorney for a consultation.

Case Studies: The Scope of Protection for Trademarks

Case Study 1: Trademark Confusion in Different Industries

In this case study, two companies, one producing perfumes and the other manufacturing automobiles, have similar names that could potentially cause confusion among consumers. The perfume company licenses the name of the automobile company for a new fragrance. This scenario raises questions about the scope of trademark protection and whether the use of a similar name across different industries can lead to trademark infringement.

Case Study 2: Functionality and Distinctiveness in Website Trademarks

In this case, a company has trademarked the overall layout and logo of its website. The question arises as to whether website design elements can be protected under trademark law. The court’s decision in the case of Blue Nile, Inc. v. Ice.com is referenced, where the court considered the functionality and distinctiveness of certain website features. This case study explores the application of trademark laws to website design and the requirements for obtaining protection.

Case Study 3: Trademark Infringement and Customer Confusion

In this scenario, a company suspects that another entity is using a trademark that is strikingly similar to its own, potentially leading to customer confusion. The company seeks legal advice to determine whether the other party’s use of a similar trademark constitutes infringement. This case study highlights the importance of consulting with intellectual property attorneys to assess potential trademark infringement and protect one’s intellectual property rights.

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Jeffrey Johnson

Insurance Lawyer

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Insurance Lawyer

Mary Martin

Published Legal Expert

Mary Martin has been a legal writer and editor for over 20 years, responsible for ensuring that content is straightforward, correct, and helpful for the consumer. In addition, she worked on writing monthly newsletter columns for media, lawyers, and consumers. Ms. Martin also has experience with internal staff and HR operations. Mary was employed for almost 30 years by the nationwide legal publi...

Published Legal Expert

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

Get Legal Help Today

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