How badly does trademark infringement hurt your company?

For the past 20 years, you have been working hard to build your brand. It takes time, work and money. You kept telling yourself, "it's a marathon, not a sprint."

It paid off, however. You grew your brand from a local presence to a statewide force. You saw it start to expand across the country. You even began making international sales. It is everything you hoped for since you started the company.

Then, someone else sees your success and starts using trademarked and copyrighted material to steal your sales. Maybe that company just uses branding to trick consumers and make them think they are buying from you, when they really are not. Or, perhaps they actually get access to your designs and products and start making products without your consent.

Your options

Fortunately, you do have legal options. You can protect your brand by taking action to put a stop to the infringement and even seek damages and be compensated for the money you lost. If the company intentionally infringed on your rights, there are cases where you can get triple damages.

The problem, though, lies in determining exactly what they cost you. That is not always so easy to do.

Pure sales

Often, the first place to begin calculating may be with sales. If that company made $5 million selling products based on your designs or your brand, those are sales you should have made. Would that have been $5 million for you, though? Perhaps they tried to undercut you in price. $5 million for them would have been closer to $9 million for you. Exactly how much did you really lose?

Inferior products

While you take pride in your products and your brand, the company that stole from you does not have those same high standards. If they made inferior products and tried to make them appear the same while simultaneously undercutting your price, that could harm your brand.

How many repeat customers did you lose when they purchased an inferior product and vowed to never buy something like that again? You know they would have loved your product, but they are probably not aware of your intellectual property case. They will never know what happened — yet those customers are lost forever.

On top of that, have the inferior products actively damaged your brand's reputation? You spent 20 years building your company's good name. If it suffers, the cost to you is enormous.

Working through the process

As you can see, trademark infringement can often have a dire impact on your company, and some of the costs are a bit more abstract than just looking at sales numbers. Make sure you understand all of your legal options.