What does likelihood of confusion mean?

Are you concerned that a competitor is unfairly using the same or a similar trademark as your business?

“Likelihood of confusion” is a term of art that comes up quite a bit if you are in the process of federally registering your trademark. It stands as a protection in place to help two things: 1. customers purchasing the wrong product or service from the wrong person; 2. to protect the person who holds that trademark registration meaning, they don’t want anybody else to monetize on their federally protected work.

For example, I have Lawyer Liza Ann as my trademark. If there’s Liza Ann out there who’s selling pots and pans or has an animal shelter, people aren’t going to confuse this. They might get caught up with the name at first, then they look at it again and think, “Oh yeah, she’s not a lawyer, we have the wrong person.” Thus, there’s not a likelihood of confusion. However, if there’s another attorney out there with the trademark Lawyer Liza Ann, people might confuse us especially, if she also practices trademark law. That might be an issue. Somebody might hire the wrong person, and not even have any idea. So, the term “Likelihood of confusion” refers to this, and trademark registration protects against this.

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