Enforcement of Trade Marks

Once you have registered your trade mark in Ireland or another country, no one may use the same or a similar mark in relation to the same class of goods or services without your permission. If another business infringes your trade mark, you have the right to bring an action demanding that they stop using the trade mark, destroy any goods or other material which contain the trade mark, and pay damages for past infringement.

In Ireland, someone is “using” your trade mark if they place the trademark on products, packaging, advertising material, or any other form of communication related to the offer or sale of goods or services in the protected category, or the importation of such goods or services with the intention of trading with Irish customers.

However, there are exceptions. For example, it is permissible to use a trade mark owned by another person for comparative advertising purposes. A trademark can also be used where it is necessary to indicate the intended purpose of a product or service, such as accessories or spare parts for the trade marked product (e.g. a company selling cases for iPhones).

If you find that someone is infringing your trade mark, the first step is normally to notify the infringer and demand that they cease using the trade mark and destroy all material on which it appears. If this tactic is not successful, then a court action may be necessary to seek an injunction and damages for infringement. If legal proceedings are instituted, the complaint often includes a claim of “passing off” as well.

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