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Nominative Fair Use of Trademarks

Nominative fair use of a trademark occurs when a third party uses a company or individual’s trademark to refer to the actual trademark owners or any products or services that owner produces. However, if that third party is describing its own products or services while using someone else’s trademark, that is unauthorized use. Nominative fair use guidelines are often used a means to defend against allegations of trademark infringement, although it can be difficult when there are specific license agreement terms between the parties.

Situations Considered As Fair Use

A third party’s reference to the trademark owner’s goods or services must be a genuine reference to what is associated with the trademark. To qualify as nominative fair use, one of the following situations must apply:

  • Use of trademark must accurately refer to the owner of the trademark or goods or services sold under the trademark. Nothing misleading should be present.
  • Use must not imply any sponsorship or endorsement by trademark owner.
  • It must be the simplest way available to refer to the owner or its products. The product or service isn’t readily identifiable without use of the trademark.
  • Only part of the trademark can be used to identify the trademark owner.

Ultimately the term “nominative” means the trademark is legitimately the most informative name for the goods or services you’re addressing, so it is fair to use it.

Contact a Dallas Intellectual Property Attorney For More Info

The attorneys at Gagnon, Peacock & Vereeke, P.C., are experienced in the nuances of intellectual property law and can offer you legal advice regarding possible trademark infringement. If you are concerned about trademark violations and are considering legal action, contact our Dallas Fort Worth offices at (214) 824-1414 today to discuss your situation with our legal team.

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