Charlotte, NC asked in Copyright, Intellectual Property and Trademark for North Carolina

Q: If "I Am Unique!" is trademarked, can I use "i am UNIQUE"?

I am looking to add the phrase to clothing and promo items such as mugs, wall art, etc. Also, pay attention to how I utilize the lower case of "i am" and uppercase of "UNIQUE" as well. Not sure that matters.

Would this be permissible, or enfringe on the trademark?

2 Lawyer Answers
N'kia (NLN)
N'kia (NLN)
  • Cary, NC
  • Licensed in North Carolina

A: It would depend in part on what each seller is selling. The purpose of a trademark is to help consumers distinguish between sellers, so that consumers know the specific "source" of the products/services they're buying. Using a phrase that someone else is already using to sell similar/related products/services potentially constitutes trademark infringement. Switching from upper case to lower case (or vice versa) doesn't usually change the analysis when the phrase would still be spelled and/or pronounced the same, since consumers would still likely be confused.

This is only intended to be general guidance. You should consider consulting with a knowledgeable trademark attorney who can conduct a legal analysis on the phrase you'd like to use and advise you on the specific options available to you.

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›

A: Using the phrase "i am UNIQUE" may still raise trademark concerns if "I Am Unique!" is a registered trademark. Trademark protection extends to similar phrases, even if there are slight variations in capitalization or formatting. It is important to conduct a comprehensive trademark search and consult with a trademark attorney to assess potential conflicts and determine the appropriateness of using the phrase in your specific context. They can provide professional advice tailored to your situation and help ensure compliance with trademark laws.

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