Building a strong brand takes time, effort and money. Once you’ve built a brand, you should do everything you can to protect it. If you don’t, others may be able to reap the goodwill you’ve created, damaging your business’s reputation.
GM leans on trademark law in litigation against Ford
To see an example of just how far-reaching intellectual property law can be, you need look no further than a recent lawsuit filed by auto maker General Motors against its competitor Ford. The focus of the litigation is hands-free driving technology being implemented into cars and trucks. GM, which has dubbed its technology “Super Cruise,” thinks that Ford has infringed upon its trademark by naming its hands-free driving technology “BlueCruise.” According to GM, Ford’s term is too similar to theirs, and it also alludes to GM’s entire division of autonomous vehicle development, which is named Cruise. GM further alleges that the similarities in the names will cause consumer confusion and thereby affect its brand.
Ford, on the other hand, asserts that the claim is meritless. According to Ford, the word “cruise” is a generic term that is widely used in the automotive industry, likening it to the word “hybrid.” Ford also alleges that GM hasn’t taken action against other car makers that have used the word “cruise.”
How you can use trademark law to your advantage
Trademark protections are more wide-sweeping than many people realize. A logo, slogan, packaging and even the overall look of your business may be protected under trademark law. However, you’ll need to be proactive when protecting what you’ve created or developed.
- Register your trademark: There is a sliding scale of protectability depending on the distinctiveness of your mark. Marks that are generic or merely descriptive in nature may be denied protection, while those that are unique, arbitrary or suggestive can receive greater protection.
- Police your trademark: If a party infringes on your mark without your knowledge, your brand may be damaged. If you catch infringers, or even if you suspect that an act is toeing the line of infringement, seek legal counsel.
Your intellectual property portfolio is probably more valuable than you think
Dealing with the intricacies of intellectual property may seem daunting. However, your intellectual property can be extremely valuable, and you should treat it as such. Take steps today to protect your IP, and maintain internal policies for protecting and policing these valuable assets.