A trademark infringement is committed when there's an unauthorized use of a brand or there's a likelihood of confusion between two distinctive signs, especially when combined with other similarities around the goods or services. The trademark doesn't need to be identical to one that is already registered to infringe upon the owner's rights, if it's similar enough to confuse consumers, its use may constitute as a violation.
In many industries trademark infringement occurs frequently, with or without guilt. There’s two types of scenarios for a distinctive sign infringement; when a person uses a logo thinking it’s original, this clearly will be without guilt, and when a person knows that their logo is similar to the one registered and related to a well-known company, taking advantage of their recognition.
When infringement occurs, the trademark owner will file a lawsuit against the infringing user of the same or similar trademark to prevent further use of the distinctive sign, and collect compensation for damages and wrongful use in the market.
The litigation process between Fábrica de Grasas y Productos Químicos Ltda. (Grasco Ltda.) and Grasas Elaboradas de Colombia S.A.S., (Grasel S.A.S) is an example of a trademark infringement in Colombia. The Delegation for Industrial Property of the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce (SIC) received an application for trademark infringement against Grasel S.A.S to protect their brand ¨La Fina¨, a recognized margarine in the national market with a history of 57 years.
Grasel S.A.S. was using the distinctive sign ¨Margarina La Nueva Fina¨, to identify fatty foods, which generated a clear competitive connection between the two products. Therefore, Grasco decided to present the appeal in the delegation. During the trial, Grasel’s representative tried to defend the company by arguing that the term "La Fina" was used to demonstrate the quality of the product.
However, the Superindustria considered that this argument was not valid. Alvaro Ramirez, our Founder & CEO gave his opinion on this case to Diario La Republica saying that, "The brand LA FINA, enjoys of great prestige in the market and even boasts the quality of notorious brand, consequently if the sign in discussion "MARGARINA LA NUEVA FINA", tries to raise a presentation and different colors, it is clear that it can cause economic damage and it will be unfair competition for Grasco Ltda.¨.
After evaluating the case the SIC decided to protect the trademark ¨La Fina¨, by eradicating the infringer brand and requiring a compensation for Grasco Ltda. If you think that someone is infringing your trademark in Latin America do not hesitate to contact us to help you with the infringement application and presented before the Official Intellectual Property office of the correspondent jurisdiction.