Infringement Lawsuit Over a Paper Bag!

grocery paper bagHere is an interesting piece of news about two companies using paper bags for advertisements. It all started when a Georgia law firm started distributing brown paper bags which can be used to carry beer cans. This firm deals with drunk driving incidents and probably gave out paper bags for beer cans as a calling card for their services. However, this act was not looked upon kindly by an Oregon craft brewery which sells its beer cans in a similar looking paper bag.

How Similar can “Similar” Be?

Now where do we draw the line on similarity as a firm in Orlando can come up with a similar looking logo as a firm in Las Vegas?  A logo, a name, a caption or a trademark has to be different from all millions of companies out there. There can be a little concession for a few similarities, but when one band gets mistaken for another, especially when both companies are marketing the same type of products, then there is a call for dispute. However, there is nothing that a company can do to prevent its trademark from being copied by others and that’s where the trouble starts.

Similar Trademarks

In the case where the Oregon brewery filed a suit against the Georgia law firm, the paper bags look amazingly similar with a diamond shaped logo, which has a similar cursive font with the words “Sessions Law” on the law firm bag and “Session Lager” on the brewery paper bag. The bags can confuse people into associating the law firm with the Full Sail Brewing Company’s brand.  However, the law firm might have deliberately chosen the design as the design brings to mind beer, which is then associated with drunken driving and that is what the law firm specializes in. On the other hand, it is natural that the brewery takes exception to being associated with drunken driving as it gives a negative picture of their product.

The Solution

Any company developing their brand identity must be aware of trademark infringement issues and must try to come up with a wholly unique symbol, name, design or device which can then be used to identify the company or brand. The main purpose of a trademark is to differentiate the goods offered by one manufacture from another. Similarly a service mark serves the purpose of a trademark to identify the company that offers the services. No matter how attractive or innovative a trademark or a service mark can be, it is always better to have your own unique identity for your product.

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