A coalition of trademark holders can register a collective mark to signify membership. Most of the time this practice is used by a group of businesses whose goods or services are produced at a common level of quality. For instance, if there is a long history of independent carpenters in rural Vermont who use a certain set of carpentry techniques passed down through the generations, then they would benefit from registering a collective mark that informs consumers of the high quality of carpentry to be expected.
However, protecting a collective mark is far more difficult when the group is composed of sponsorship organizations that have paid considerable sums of money in order to collectively advertise. For example, only official Olympic sponsors can use their collective marks to advertise. Given the Olympics’ immense public spectacle, non-official Olympic sponsors could stand to gain from the attention without paying millions in membership fees if consumers confuse their imagery with the collective marks.
Currently, the Canadian Olympic Committee is concerned about the new North Face line called the “International Collection,” according to CTV News. A representative of North Face said, “We are not an official sponsor of the Canadian Olympic Committee or Team Canada and never indicated we were.” The Canadian Olympic Committee replied that the Committee “will vigorously defend its brand, including all its sponsors and licensees, against ambush marketing attempts to mislead Canadians.”
Ambush marketing is a technique in which non-member organizations try to take advantage of widely watched events, such as the Olympics, without paying sponsorship fees. Olympic Committees have a multi-million dollar obligation to protect the sanctity of their official sponsors’ exclusive rights to advertise. The Canadian Olympic Committee will have to prove that consumers misidentified North Face as an official sponsor in order to combat their infringement on the collective mark.
If a business or individual is infringing on your collective mark, our Los Angeles trademark attorneys can help. We will intervene immediately, halt production of the infringing product and recover the lost profits that your group deserves. The Klein Trial Lawyers legal team has over 25 years of experience defending individuals, businesses and coalitions of businesses in intellectual propertydisputes. For more information or a confidential consultation, call us at (323) 653-3900.
[Did You Know: The US Patent Office says that registration is not necessary to use TM or SM designations after a mark.]
Klein Trial Lawyers—Los Angeles business litigation lawyers
Source: www.uspto.gov/, www.ctvnews.ca
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