We’ve all heard how devastating a trademark infringement case can be – especially when it involves a large multinational organisation against a relatively small business. Not only can trade infringement cases destroy businesses, they can also cause grief and extensive monetary loss for business owners.
To help you avoid the consequences of trademark infringement cases, and to not be susceptible to trademark infringement accusations in the first place, below are a few famous trademark infringement cases you can learn from.
Instagram VS. LitterGram
Instagram (now owned by Facebook) was involved in a trademark infringement case, when a new company known as LitterGram was discovered to have a similar name and brand concept (with ‘gram’ and based around taking pictures).
Despite the case gathering extensive attention from the public due to Facebook’s and Instagram’s involvement, in the end, Facebook decided to drop the case, possibly due to the goals of LitterGram. LitterGram was created as a litter sharing public platform to raise awareness for the environmental consequences of littering as well as to keep individuals accountable for littering.
While Facebook was forgiving to drop the lawsuit against LitterGram, the case shows why it is so important to be careful with replicating original concepts from large organisations. Depending on the case and the multinational company filing the lawsuit, they may not be as lenient as Facebook.
WWF VS. WWF (now WWE)
Judging from the name of the case alone, we can already see what went wrong. The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) filed a lawsuit against the wrestling organisation, then named World Wrestling Foundation, for using the same initials.
The case concluded in 2001 when a London High Court ruled in favour of the World Life Foundation on the basis that the World Wrestling Foundation operated illegally in not restricting their initial use in business activities. Consequently, the World Wrestling Foundation was forced to rename to World Wrestling Entertainment.
From this case, we can see that when businesses are not careful with their names (especially with acronyms), there can be severe consequences. The public confusion caused by similar or the same names can be disadvantageous to both companies as well.
Elvis Presley VS. BrewDog
Another case involving famous names is the case of Authentic Brands Group (which manages Elvis Presley’s name and official events) against Scottish brewer, BrewDog. ABG launched a lawsuit against BrewDog on the premise that their beer brand Elvis Juice IPA was named after Elvis Presley. In response, BrewDog’s directors changed their deed poll to ‘Elvis’ to convince the court that their beer was named after themselves.
While the court originally ruled in favour of ABG in 2017, in 2018, the decision was overturned on appeal as the court concluded that the name ‘Elvis’ is common enough to not make consumers think there is a link between Elvis Juice IPA and Elvis Presley. As such, when naming your business, products and services, make sure to use common names to avoid trademark infringement accusations.
Need help with your business’ own trademarks? Want to avoid trouble and stay away from trademark infringement accusations? Consult with small business lawyers like Progressive Legal now!