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A trademark is a company's logo, symbol, or name that is used to identify it and its products or services, and is legally protected. Infringement is when a company unlawfully uses a trademark of another company for any purpose. If a jury finds the defendant guilty, then trademark infringement damages are possible. There are several different types of damages, including reimbursement for loss of income, actual damages, punitive damages, and attorney fees. Battling trademark infringement can be a long process and may cost more than a company would receive in trademark infringement damages.
Loss of income due to trademark infringement damages is often difficult to prove. If the plaintiff proves that the defendant willingly and intentionally violated trademark infringement, the gross profit gained from using this trademark could be collected. It typically is the responsibility of the defendant to verify that not all of the profits from using the trademark were directly related to that trademark. If the defendant is unable to validate this, he or she may lose all income associated from the period in question.
Trademark infringement damages can also include actual damages that a plaintiff can allege. Actual damages can include informing customers of the illegal use of a trademark and collecting a royalty fee. A court may make the defendant inform the public that the defendant led them to believe that the product or service was another company by using the trademark. Collecting a royalty fee by the plaintiff in lieu of the total loss is sometimes an easier method. Accounting for trademark infringement loss can be hard, and it can be even harder to prove that the loss was due to the illegal use of the trademark.
Punitive damages awarded by the court are oftentimes used to make a point to the defendant. It is punishment for the illegal use of the trademark. Trademark infringement damages such as this might deter the defendant from committing such acts in the future. The other reason a judge may agree to punitive damages is to keep other companies from committing a similar act.
Attorney fees also can be a part of trademark infringement damages. Judges may award the plaintiff part or all of the attorney fees for the plaintiff. Not all states, however, allow for the collection of attorney fees.
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