When imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery

What do Ozzy Osbourne, Clint Eastwood and Mario Batali have in common?

No, it’s not the start of a bad joke. Each has been in the papers recently because of efforts they’ve taken to police against potential infringement of their trademark rights.

In Ozzy Osbourne’s case, he is trying to stop a brewery in Maryland from selling a beer called “Ozzy” which displays a logo featuring tattooed fingers and a bat.

Clint Eastwood filed a lawsuit against the makers of a theater chair called “The Eastwood.”

Finally, Mario Batali’s restaurant group has threatened to sue a food truck over use of the name “Little Eataly.”

These high profile cases may seem silly, but they emphasize a very important point – a trademark owner’s work isn’t over when the mark registers.

Trademark owners are legally obligated to police against potentially infringing uses of their marks.

Failure to do so may result in dilution of the mark, limits on enforcing trademark rights in the future, and even a total loss of all rights in the mark.

So, how can you protect your mark against infringement?

First, set in place a plan to actively monitor for infringing uses. This can be simple, such as reminding employees to be on the lookout for any other potentially confusing marks, or more involved, such as subscribing to a trademark monitoring service.

Second, seriously investigate and evaluate potentially infringing marks.

Third, consult with your FOS attorneys to determine if legal action is warranted. Many times, a cease and desist letter can solve the problem. But, if the infringing use is serious, then legal action may be necessary.

No one else will do this work for you – you must be vigilant about protecting and enforcing your trademark rights.

With you doing your part, FOS’s attorneys can help you keep unlawful imitators at bay.