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Intellectual Property

Trademarks Are Not Monopolies

 by Donna Ray Berkelhammer

Trademarks are brand names or logos that identify the producers of products or services in the marketplace, so that customers can find what they are looking for.

You may prefer the taste of 7 Up soda to Sprite soda, and the trademarks allow you to find what you want.  Trademark law prevents your competitors from using a name or logo that would confuse customers to buy their product or service instead of yours.

But a trademark is not a monopoly.  A trademark is used in connection with a specific good or service, and different companies can use similar marks in connection with different goods or services.

I'm fond of telling my trademark clients that Domino sugar is allowed to co-exist in the marketplace with Domino's pizza.  I believe my updated example will be Smithfield meats and Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-Q restaurants (It's not us, it's them).

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