Trademark infringement is a serious and complex risk that business owners face. However, it can often be difficult to determine if an action – or in some cases, a word – truly infringes on another company’s protected and valid symbol, especially when it comes down to common terms shared by many companies.

A recent Supreme Court case emphasizes just how difficult these types of trademark infringement disputes can be.

Success for Lucky in years-long trademark disputes

The clothing brand Lucky is a well-known name in both the consumer world and the business world. The Los Angeles-based company holds high rank in the fashion world, which can, unfortunately, lead businesses to face higher risks.

For example, the Miami-based Marcel Fashion Group has filed several trademark infringement lawsuits against Lucky over the years. The dispute began when Lucky used the phrase “Get Lucky” in an ad campaign. Marcel already had a trademark on this phrase.

In the original settlement, Lucky agreed not to use “Get Lucky” in any further campaigns. However, in the following years, Marcel claimed Lucky infringed again, using phrases with the term “lucky.” This led the two companies to go back and forth for years, through circuit courts and appeals courts.

In May, the Supreme Court of the United States determined that Lucky did not infringe on Marcel’s trademarks after the initial settlement, proving to be a win for Lucky after decades.

What can business owners learn from this case?

Legal issues involving trademarks are not easy to manage. And as the case between Lucky and Marcel demonstrates, these matters can be prolonged and painstaking – especially if they are not resolved properly to begin with.

That is why business owners must take great care to protect their trademark. It is often beneficial to speak with an experienced business attorney to create a proactive plan to protect intellectual property. However, California business owners must also:

  • Fully understand their trademark rights;
  • Monitor the use of their trademark; and
  • Take swift – but strategic – action against infringement.

Proactive action is essential not only to secure trademarks but also to avoid lengthy and expensive litigation.