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Protecting trademarks: Is litigation always the answer?

Trademarks, copyrights and other means of protecting intellectual property can be critical to a company's success. They protect products, services and designs that are unique to one company and give it a competitive edge.

However, these protections can only be effective if they are enforced. After all, allowing others to infringe on your trademark decreases its value. On the other hand, you must consider the likelihood of confusion before filing a trademark infringement lawsuit. If the likelihood of confusion is very low, legal action may not be successful.

For instance, clothing company Adidas has been accused by Forever 21, another clothing company, of being overly aggressive in their efforts to protect "perceived trademark rights," according to a lawsuit recently filed. 

The allegations are in response to multiple complaints filed by Adidas against different companies. In its claims, Adidas argued that the other clothing companies used designs specifically intended to confuse consumers and imitate Adidas. The designs, according to Adidas, infringed on their trademark.

However, according to the suit filed by Forever 21, Adidas' efforts to enforce their trademarks are overzealous and inappropriate. Adidas has evidently taken issue with companies for using more than three stripes, less than three stripes, different widths of stripes and patterns that are not unique to Adidas.

Whether the courts will rule in favor of Adidas, Forever 21 and/or the other companies in these cases remains to be seen. In the meantime, this case might spark some discussion about the line between aggressive legal action and potentially ineffective litigation.

Weighing the benefits of enforcing trademarks against the potential consequences to a company's reputation and corporate priorities can be crucial. It is also wise to consider the fact that there are alternatives to litigation that can achieve the same resolution without the publicity and expense.

Considering all that you could have at stake when it comes to protecting intellectual property, it is essential that you have legal guidance and support if you are a business owner in Florida. Failure to have the perspective of an experienced attorney can lead to some costly mistakes.

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