Coexistence Agreement In Trademarks
A brand co-existence agreement should include the following: The purpose of a brand co-existence agreement is that trademarks are often used in “good faith” by several companies. The lack of formal agreement does not affect a company that uses the brand, as it is present in different regions of the world. However, with business growth, overlaps can develop and both parties may have significant rights to the use of the trademark. In some cases, companies that extend and use the same brand or similar brand generally enter into a co-existence agreement to avoid the use of the trademark in an undesirable or hurtful manner. Co-existence agreements can provide practical solutions to companies that are concerned about being sued for trademark infringement, as proactive agreements can avoid the high cost of litigation.  The potential benefits of a co-existence agreement are that co-existence agreements can be useful in resolving current or future uncertainties and difficulties faced by the parties in the use of similar trademarks. Such agreements are not recommended, however, if the trademark holder were to be used: neither company anticipated that the future development of digital music technologies would bring the two areas much closer together. When Apple Computers launched the iPod and iTunes memory, Apple Corps filed a complaint claiming that Apple Computers had entered the Apple Corps-only area, in violation of the trademark co-existence agreement. The court considered the issue from the consumer`s point of view and found that there was no breach of the agreement, since the Apple Computers logo was used in conjunction with the software and not with the music provided by the service. No consumer who downloads music with iTunes software would think they are interacting with Apple Corps. The USPTO reviews many relevant factors and evidence before reaching a conclusion regarding the approval of a trademark. In cases where the USPTO believes that the requested mark could lead to confusion between the consumer and a previously registered trademark, the USPTO will place significant weight on an agreement between the applicant and the registered trademark holder.
However, the approval agreement should be sufficiently detailed, with concrete reasons and evidence indicating that the parties involved do not foresee consumer confusion and the explicit steps they will take to further minimize them. The “naked” approval agreements (which contain only permission to register the trademark and a brief statement that confusion is unlikely) are much less persuasive to the USPTO. In the end, a high probability of consumer confusion due to extremely similar brands may even null and void the most detailed consent agreement. A brand co-existence agreement is a broader agreement that offers even greater protection than a simple approval agreement. Co-existence agreements generally include unique restrictions on sites, industries and/or marketing methods in which two parties can use their respective trademarks. These specifications apply in addition to the points mentioned above in the approval agreement. Co-existence agreements are particularly useful for companies wishing to develop and avoid future infringement procedures and/or litigation.