What Is Trademark Infringement?

What is trademark infringement?

I know you’ve heard of a trademark. And you’ve probably heard of trademark infringement. But do you know what it actually is? Sure, trademark infringement could be when another business uses the same name of your business. However, it is MUCH MORE than that!

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) defines trademark infringement as “the unauthorized use of a trademark or service mark on or in connection with goods and/or services in a manner that is likely to cause confusion, deception, or mistake about the source of the goods and/or services.”

Okay, Andrea, that’s great. What does that even mean? Let’s break it down!

In connection with goods and/or services

This is an important concept with trademarks. If you have a clothing company and you find a yoga studio with the same name as your brand, that’s most likely not trademark infringement. The USPTO registers trademarks according to different classes of goods and services. There are 45 different classes. In order to amount to trademark infringement, the goods or services must be related. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the goods or services have to fall under the same class, but they do have to be related. 

For example, there is a difference between a trademark for retail store services and the apparel that you actually sell in your store, but the two are still potentially related. If you have a clothing line with the name “Teddy’s Looks,” (That’s completely random. My dog’s name is Teddy and he’s sitting right here next to me.) and someone tries to come along and name their apparel store “Teddy’s Looks,” that is potentially trademark infringement. This is just one example of how goods and services can be related but not be in the same class. 

As a real-life example for the same name but unrelated goods, take a look at the Delta companies. There is certainly Delta, the airline service, but there is also Delta, the faucet company. The two companies are very large, and they have the same name. But the goods and services they provide are completely unrelated, so there is no trademark infringement.


Likely to cause confusion, deception, or mistake

Here’s where it gets interesting. Most people think they’re relieved from trademark infringement as long as they change the spelling, add a word, or remove a word from the mark in question. But, that’s not the case. Your mark may infringe on another mark if it causes confusion with the other mark. What type of confusion? Consumer confusion! Trademarks are in place in order to protect the branding of a company. 

Consumer confusion can occur in a number of ways. And consumer confusion doesn’t even have to actually happen to prove trademark infringement. If the confusion, deception, or mistake is likely to occur, then it’s trademark infringement. 

Let’s go back to “Teddy’s Looks.” If there is a clothing line or a store with the name “Teddy’s Clothes,” that could potentially be trademark infringement. This is because the goods and services are related (clothing), AND someone could potentially think Teddy’s Clothes is the same business as Teddy’s Looks. 


It can be pretty challenging to prove trademark infringement if the potential of confusion is not obvious. However, what may not be obvious to you may be obvious confusion to a trademark attorney. This is why it’s incredibly important to run an official trademark search. A search can relieve a large amount of stress if you’re not sure if you’re infringing on someone else’s trademark. I’ve said this many times before, but it’s worth repeating. A GOOGLE SEARCH IS NOT SUFFICIENT! Yes, a Google search can uncover the clear-cut case of trademark infringement, but your Google search most likely won’t uncover the close calls. And the close calls are what will come up down the road and cost you thousands of dollars in rebranding. 

Spend the few hundred dollars now to run an official search and provide yourself with the comfort knowing you’re not infringing on a trademark. 

If you’d like more information on conducting a trademark search, shoot me an email – [email protected]

Don’t forget to join the private Facebook Group.

Other Related Episodes

Episode 225- Always Be Ready to Pivot with Ameerah Saine

Today I am so happy to be talking with Ameerah Saine. Ameerah is the founder of Brunch and Slay and the CEO of BAS Media. After incredible success with Brunch and Slay, Ameerah realized that she had a new passion. She was hungry to build a company that could help small businesses flourish and grow and BAS Media was born. A digital marketing company that gives “al a carte” options for small businesses.

Episode 224 Why the Fear of Failure is Fake

I think that many people believe that their fear of failure is what is holding them back from accomplishing their dreams. But by not going after your dream you are also failing. Digging into the root of your fear can allow you to see what is really holding you back from living the life you dream of and I am all about everyone Dreaming Bigger!

Episode 223 Helping Women Build Profitable Businesses with Amy Kiefer

When Amy had her first child she realized that women weren’t getting the support that they needed in early motherhood. She and her sister set out to fill this gap and created Expecting and Empowered. Their program was built to help women thrive through pregnancy and postpartum. That was the beginning. Since then she has co-created the “Herself Podcast” and most recently Pursuing her Purpose which helps women build profit through online businesses.