What Is Trademark Dilution?

Under the Lanham Act, trademark dilution occurs when a third party lessens unique qualities and distinctiveness of a registered trademark.Trademark dilution is a form of trademark infringement under the Lanham Act. It occurs when a trademark is used in a way that lessens its unique qualities, even if the use does not cause consumer confusion as to the source of the goods or services. For example, if a company uses a famous trademark in an advertisement for a completely unrelated product, this may dilute the trademark.

The Lanham Act provides protection against trademark dilution, even if the diluting use does not cause consumer confusion. This protection is available for famous trademarks that have a strong association in the minds of consumers with a particular product or service. To prove dilution, the trademark owner must show that the diluting use lessens the uniqueness or distinctiveness of the famous trademark.

If the trademark owner prevails in a lawsuit for trademark dilution, they may be entitled to various remedies, such as injunctions, damages, and attorney’s fees. The trademark owner can also seek an injunction to stop the diluting use of the trademark.

It’s important to note that trademark dilution is a separate cause of action from trademark infringement. While trademark infringement requires a likelihood of consumer confusion, dilution only requires that the diluting use lessens the uniqueness or distinctiveness of the trademark. This means that a company can infringe a trademark through dilution even if its use does not cause consumer confusion.

Examples of Famous Trademark Dilution Cases

Here are a few examples of trademark dilution under the Lanham Act:

  • Coca-Cola vs. PepsiCo: In the case of Coca-Cola Co. v. PepsiCo, Inc., Pepsi was accused of diluting the distinctiveness of the Coca-Cola trademark by using similar-looking packaging for its products.
  • Louis Vuitton vs. Haute Diggity Dog: In the case of Louis Vuitton Malletier S.A. v. Haute Diggity Dog, LLC, the luxury fashion brand accused a company of diluting its trademark by selling dog toys that were designed to resemble Louis Vuitton handbags.
  • Tiffany & Co. vs. eBay: In the case of Tiffany (NJ) Inc. v. eBay Inc., the famous jewelry brand accused eBay of allowing the sale of counterfeit Tiffany products on its platform, which diluted the distinctiveness of the Tiffany trademark.

These are a few examples of the many cases in which companies have been accused of dilution under the Lanham Act.

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