The unlawful use of intellectual property assets can have severe consequences for a brand. Take trademark infringement, for example. As defined by the United States Patent And Trademark Office (USPTO), trademark infringement involves the “unauthorized use of a trademark or service mark on or in connection with goods and/or services,” and it can cause “confusion, deception, or a mistake about the source of [those] goods and/or services.”
Essentially, it’s one brand copying another and capitalizing off their image. While it is sometimes accidental, other cases are nothing more than clear cut cases of theft. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the most blatant examples of infringement in recent memory, so you can see just how damaging the problem can be.
3M v. 3N
We all know 3M, the American mega-company that produces all manner of innovative consumer and safety products. Back in 2015, they had to engage in a legal battle against Hua Wei Advance Material Corporation’s suspiciously similar “3N” brand.
Although 3N did have some differences in their specific products and pricing, the Chinese courts agreed that 3M’s trademark had a “high level of distinctiveness and reputation,” and that 3N’s mark was “visually similar” to 3M’s in a way that consumers could confuse the two. The win for 3M was for millions of dollars in damages.
Air Jordan v. Qiaodan
In yet another case of Chinese brands copying America, there’s the case of Qiaodan ripping of Michael Jordan’s iconic shoe logo, along with his jersey number and other details in order to promote their products. In 2012, Jordan sued the company, requesting that they cease the use of their Chinese-character trademarks, and, initially, he lost his case.
Flash-forward four years, though, and Jordan found his win in China’s highest court (the Supreme People’s Court), but the legal battle was a long and costly one. It’s not a fight that most “normal” brands could have taken on, and illustrates just how damaging such disputes can be.
Gucci v. Forever 21
In an interesting reversal, this case involves an American brand being accused of ripping off a foreign one. Gucci, as we know, is a famous Italian fashion brand, and LA-based Forever 21 decided to file suit against them, saying that Gucci was repeatedly threatening their own suit for the use of their striped trademarks.
Battles over fashion can get particularly heated, but the two brands eventually settled after a plethora of claims and counterclaims were flung in both directions. The exact details of this particular settlement, however, are largely unknown.