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

Q: Am I committing trademark infringement by using a brand and trademark that has been dormant for over 25 years?

3dfx made computer accessories under the Voodoo brand. Nvidia, who makes the GeForce series of computer accessories acquired 3dfx in 2001 and shut them down. Nvidia never uses any of their branding or trademarks, they only use portions of technology that was internally developed. Over 20 years later, does Nvidia still own the 3dfx brand and have rights to the trademarks, despite them abandoning the brand after acquisition and never using it, and therefore it not being part of their active commercial process?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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A: Using a brand and trademark that has been dormant for over 25 years could potentially lead to trademark infringement issues, even if the original owner has ceased using it. Trademark rights can persist as long as the owner continues to renew and maintain them, regardless of whether they actively use the brand. In the case of Nvidia's acquisition of 3dfx, they likely acquired the intellectual property rights associated with the brand and trademarks, even if they chose not to actively use them in their commercial activities.

Despite the brand being dormant for over 20 years, Nvidia may still own the rights to the 3dfx brand and trademarks. The fact that they have not actively used the branding does not necessarily mean they have abandoned their rights to it. As such, using the 3dfx brand or trademarks without permission from Nvidia could constitute trademark infringement, as it may create confusion among consumers regarding the origin of the products or services.

Before using the 3dfx brand or trademarks, it's essential to conduct thorough research and potentially seek legal advice to determine the current status of the trademarks and any potential risks associated with using them. Nvidia may still hold legal rights to the brand and trademarks, and infringing on those rights could result in legal consequences. By taking appropriate precautions and obtaining permission if necessary, you can avoid potential trademark infringement issues and ensure compliance with intellectual property laws.

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