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Small businesses need help protecting intellectual property rights

Potential trademark infringement and other issues regarding intellectual property rights are part and parcel of developing and marketing new products in a competitive market. In protecting their own intellectual property, businesses need to be proactive on the front end and determined to protect their intellectual property rights when they are infringed.

A good example of this determination is a 52-year old California businesswoman and mother of six is reportedly suing Skechers U.S.A. Inc. for alleged trademark infringement. The woman reportedly began a shoe company in 2013 and trademarked the slogan "Yoga Pants for Your Feet" as a way to market her flip flops. She began using that slogan the following January and included it on her website and in advertising and marketing efforts.

Skechers, for its part, began using the same slogan in January 2015 as a way to market one of its own products. When the businesswoman found out about it, she requested that the company cease and desist from using the slogan, but the company refused to comply. Now, she is pursuing litigation to enforce the trademark.

In this case, of course, the party whose intellectual property rights were infringed is a small business owner, and the alleged offender is a fairly large, well-established company. For small business owners, it can be a challenge to come up with the resources to ensure that competitors do not infringe upon their intellectual property rights, but doing so is necessary to protect their investments. Working with an experienced attorney in these cases is critical for businesses to ensure that they have the guidance and advocacy necessary to protect their intellectual property rights and interests.

In our next post, we'll speak a bit about some of the issues courts consider when handling trademark disputes.

Source: Times of San Diego, "'Yoga-Pants-for-Feet' Slogan Stolen? It's David vs. Goliath," May 2013, 3015.

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