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What is contributory trademark infringement?

On Behalf of | Mar 14, 2023 | blog, intellectual property law

A trademark is a key component of a business. Your trademark symbolizes your company’s reputation and values and the brand that you have worked hard to build. Therefore, it is important to protect it from infringement.

Direct trademark infringement can do serious damage to your brand. When another party enables the infringement, it can increase the risks to your business.

Defining contributory trademark infringement

Contributory trademark infringement is a form of derivative liability, which is the liability of one party for another party’s actions. Contributory infringement, also known as indirect or secondary infringement, can occur when one party provides goods or services that help another party infringe on your trademark.

In these cases, the defendant does not participate in the trademark infringement directly but allows or helps another party to do so. For example, if a vendor produces t-shirts with your logo on them and sells them at a flea market, the operator of the market might be guilty of contributory infringement.

Suing for contributory trademark infringement

To make a case for contributory infringement, you must demonstrate that:

  • The defendant provided goods or services to the infringer
  • The infringer used the defendant’s goods or services to infringe upon your trademark
  • The defendant knew about the infringement and continued to provide goods or services
  • The trademark infringement caused you damage

If you are able to prove all of the above, you may be able to hold the contributing party responsible.

Your trademark is valuable and worth protecting. Being vigilant about trademark infringement in all forms can help protect your business.