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What exactly is the trademark standard for a rival's infringement?

Imagine that you're a business owner in California or elsewhere who, through inspiration, solid business acumen and unrelenting diligence, has created a company with traction and high future promise.

Central to your success is the public's ready identification of your business -- whether it provides a service or sells a product -- through a distinguishing mark or symbol -- a trademark.

You need to protect that, right?

Because if you don't, another business might begin using the same mark or a highly similar designation to leech off your company's good will with consumers by selling its own products to them based on their confusion as to brand identity. That action can dampen your sales. Importantly, too, it can dilute your brand if the substitute offering is an inferior knockoff. Maybe, too, the competing good is an altogether different product that you do not want to be associated with.

The bottom line: When it comes to trademarks, consumer confusion is not a good thing for mark owners with established products.

How does relevant law look at that? What is the standard for adjudging trademark infringement?

Centrally, and as noted in an online primer on the subject, it is this: the likelihood of confusion in a consumer's mind as to product source when he or she is confronted by two similar marks.

A court might look at many factors when making an assessment on product confusion, being guided by an experienced intellectual property attorney who can effectively present the case of a client who is suffering from another entity's infringing activities.

Is one mark widely known and with high consumer recognition? Is a company's symbol highly distinctive, that is, is it immediately associated with a particular product or service? Was the infringement clearly a purposeful act, or was it simply an accident?

These and other factors can be dispositive in a given infringement case. A proven trademark infringement attorney can provide further information.

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