You’ve secured federal registration for your trademarks and you’ve been building your brand recognition. Per your trademark attorney’s recommendation, you’ve had quarterly searches conducted to find similar marks. Lo and behold, a new entry to the market is using your trademark. Now what? Stop and take a breath; let the initial surprise or anger settle. There is a lot to consider before taking any action.
Take Stock of the Situation
First, take a look at your own trademark. Is it the name of your winery or of one of your products? Is it a national brand or one that is distributed in a small geographic area? In what classes of goods and services is it registered (e.g., class 033 for wine, class 040 for “custom production of wine for others,” etc.)?
Then look at the competitor’s mark. Is the mark identical to yours or similar? How similar? Is it broadly distributed? Is it used for the same goods and services as your mark? If not, how similar are the goods and services? Are your products marketed through the same trade channels? Are consumers likely to encounter both your products and theirs? Have they attempted to register their trademark and, if so, where are they in that process?
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Experienced litigation, patent, and trademark attorney