Brooklyn, NY asked in Copyright, Intellectual Property and Trademark for New York

Q: Can I use the word capricorn on a hoodie and not get sued?

2 Lawyer Answers
Marcos Garciaacosta
Marcos Garciaacosta

A: Depends on whether somebody else is using and in what context

Consult with an attorney

John B. Hudak
John B. Hudak
  • Trademarks Lawyer
  • Milford, CT
  • Licensed in New York

A: Unauthorized use of a word with trademark rights can be viewed as trademark infringement or trademark dilution. Below is a more technical description of both.

One can commit trademark infringement if that person uses a mark, which is the same as -- or similar to another mark -- that will cause likelihood of confusion to a potential consumer, that both marks are indicating a common source of the goods/services.

In addition to trademark infringement, there is trademark dilution. Under the Trademark Dilution Act 15 U.S.C. 1125(c), if a mark is used which impairs the distinctiveness of a famous mark or harms the reputation of a famous mark, the owner of the famous mark can obtain an injunction to stop the other user from using the mark. This injunction can occur “regardless of the presence or absence of actual or likely confusion, of competition, or of actual economic injury.” 15 U.S.C. 1125(c)

Consider hiring a lawyer to review the specific facts to your individual situation.

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