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What to know about unauthorized use of a trademark

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2023 | Business, KB Blog

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reported 440,668 trademark applications in 2022, not including foreign applications.

In the world of business, trademarks are invaluable assets that represent a company’s brand and its unique products or services. Unauthorized use of a trademark is a serious matter with significant legal implications.

Trademark basics

It is essential to comprehend how a trademark works. It is a distinctive symbol, word or phrase that distinguishes one company’s products or services from others in the market. The owner registers the trademarks with the appropriate authorities to get legal protection for the brand’s identity.

Unauthorized use defined

Unauthorized use of a trademark occurs when an individual or entity, without proper authorization, employs a registered trademark belonging to another entity. This unauthorized usage can take various forms, including utilizing the trademark for similar products or services, imitating the trademark or using it in a way that might confuse consumers.

Consequences of unauthorized use

The consequences of using a trademark without proper authorization can be severe. The rightful trademark owner may pursue legal action to protect their brand. This legal action can lead to infringement lawsuits, loss of reputation and seizure of assets associated with the unauthorized use of the trademark, which can be financially devastating for the infringing party.


It is essential to note there are very few defenses against unauthorized use of a trademark. Common defenses include arguing that the trademark is generic or that it falls under fair use. However, these defenses often are not successful.

Preventing unauthorized use

To avoid the legal and financial consequences of unauthorized trademark use, businesses must conduct proper due diligence before adopting or using a mark. This includes conducting comprehensive trademark searches. Additionally, businesses should monitor their trademarks to identify and address any potential infringements promptly.

Unauthorized use of a trademark can lead to severe consequences for both individuals and businesses. Understanding the legal implications of unauthorized trademark use is essential to maintaining a healthy and competitive business environment.