Companies have all kinds of intellectual property (IP), including trademarks, but just how important is that IP to a company? As a business attorney for nearly 40 years, Professor Patricia Lee of Loyola can tell you that trademarks and other forms of IP are hugely important and becoming more important every day.
As the director of the Loyola Business Law Clinic, Prof. Lee and her students find that trademark and other IP issues are a natural part of assisting and counseling the clinic’s clients. “Trademarks are very important to business startups and non-profit organizations,” said Prof. Lee.
So, where is Prof. Lee from and how did she get into business?
While big companies may have dozens of trademarks, smaller and lesser-known companies can also have valid trademarks, as long as they satisfy the trademark criteria.
Can a large company infringe a smaller company’s mark? Yes! This is sometimes referred to as “reverse confusion,” where the small company is the first user and the large company is the later user. But, there can still be confusion among consumers. The larger company may use its money and resources (like ads) to infiltrate the smaller company’s market with a similar mark on similar goods or services.