Trademark rights prohibit the use of another company’s trademarks or service marks to describe other goods or services, or in other ways that will likely cause confusion among consumers.
There are two important exceptions to this general rule. The first involves comparative advertising. A company can use a competitor’s trademark to refer to the competitor’s goods or services when it compares its own goods or services to those of the competitor. We have all seen these ads and they can be very effective. For the exception to apply, however, the ad and the comparison must be scrupulously truthful. Making untrue and unverifiable statements touting your own goods or services, or criticizing your competitors’ may give your competitor a claim for unfair competition. It may also give the Federal Trade Commission and other government agencies a basis to take action if necessary to protect the public from deception.
Practice AreasIntellectual Property and Litigation