For the last two decades organizations have spent a significant amount of time and resources developing an online presence that embodies their corporate goals, motivations and ideals. Unfortunately, the digital arena is so crowded that competitors will often appropriate certain elements of the look and feel of an established organization’s web presence as a short cut.
While trademark and copyright law do not specifically address this phenomenon, litigation centering on trade dress infringement is likely appropriate.
What is trade dress infringement?
This generally occurs when one company mimics the look and feel of another company’s design, packaging or products with the intent of confusing consumers or individuals looking for services. This legal concept can impact the online arena in numerous ways, including:
- The color scheme of your website
- The images used in your materials
- Design elements including typography and layout
- Video titles
- Naming conventions
- Banner or footer design, color and icons
It could present a legally complex challenge in proving that an organization infringed on another’s look and feel. The above factors as well as other considerations such as production style of videos, music selection or font design can be used to strengthen a case.
The digital marketplace continues to expand and fill with new companies seeking to make a statement online. Whether the company exists solely online or the digital presence is designed to compliment a brick-and-mortar existence, the organization must protect their unique appearance. Fortunately, there are legal protections in place when one company chooses to infringe on an established look to mislead or confuse consumers.