Q&A: Store designs and more may be registered as trademarks
Crowe attorney Margaret Millikin discusses Apple's recent registration of its store design as a trademark.
A: The registration may be enforced in the United States and will receive the benefits accorded all federally registered marks. The registration creates a legal presumption of Apple's ownership of the mark and its exclusive right to use the mark nationwide in connection with retail store services. Apple may use the registration to prevent competitors from using confusingly similar designs for competitive retail store services, sue in federal court and receive statutory or punitive damages for willful infringement.
A U.S. registration may be enforced only in the United States. However, the U.S. registration may serve as a basis for registering the same mark in other countries.
Q: What is the penalty for violation of the trademark?
A: A successful plaintiff may be entitled to a variety of remedies for trademark infringement, including an injunction against further use of the infringing mark to prevent ongoing damage. Money damages may be awarded and are based upon a variety of factors, such as the amount of the defendant's profits, a reasonable royalty, the plaintiff's damages and even triple damages where the infringement is willful.
Wise entrepreneurs will conduct trademark clearance searches before adopting a new mark. These clearance searches also are useful before organizing a new corporation or LLC since a business name may infringe an existing trademark or service mark.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER