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New York Trademark Suit: Ben & Jerry's Takes Issue With Use of Names

Reputation is a key factor to its success. A company's trademark provides that business with a distinctive identity. A trademark may be a name, word, logo, symbol, image or a combination of all of these examples. People often identify a company by its brand.

Infringement of trademark, copyright or other intellectual property must be taken seriously. A company must be vigilant and proactive in protecting its intellectual property. Using a company's trademark for an inferior product or an immoral purpose might damage the reputation of that company greatly.

The New York business community must have heard about the recent trademark litigation by "Ben & Jerry's," a well-known ice cream brand in the United States and international markets. Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc. has sued a pornography company over trademark infringement. The latter has allegedly been using certain titles and themes, "deceptively similar" to Ben & Jerry's various ice cream flavors.

The pornography company involved in the distribution and sale of X-rated DVDs - named "Ben & Cherry's" - allegedly uses inappropriate yet similar titles to ice cream flavors for their DVDs. Apart from the titles, the packaging also allegedly contains the ice cream company's themes, for example, the use of a grazing cow, green grass and large white puffy clouds. Ben & Jerry's has alleged that the pornography company has tarnished its image by associating the brand with pornography. The former has sought unspecified damages in compensation.

Remedial measures in the case of a trademark infringement action can include an injunction and a claim for damages. Furthermore if successful, a claim for damages may include the defendant's profits, actual damages sustained by the plaintiff and other costs. Exemplary damages may be awarded upon a showing bad faith.

For those not interested in pursuing litigation, alternative dispute resolution is another way of deciding trademark infringement disputes. In alternate dispute resolution, parties may enter into negotiations to determine the damages and royalties.

Source: ABC News, "Ben & Jerry's Sues Over Trademark Violation," Sept. 6, 2012

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