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Trying the most complex issues for over 30 years.

Unmasking brand confusion: The role of consumer surveys

On Behalf of | Sep 7, 2023 | Intellectual Property

The competition in the business world can be absolutely fierce, and your company’s trademarks are more than just labels – they’re a critical part of your brand identity.

That makes the possibility of brand confusion among your customer base a huge issue, and definitely something that can lead to litigation. That’s where consumer surveys that are designed to show the potential for market confusion come in.

How important are consumer surveys to trademark infringement cases?

Surveys provide a methodological approach to assess whether consumers are likely to be confused between two similar brands. Surveys help:

  • Gauge consumer perceptions: Surveys allow legal teams to gauge how consumers perceive and associate a company’s name, logo or branding elements. By presenting mock-ups or real-life examples, surveys gather data on whether consumers are likely to mistake one company for another.
  • Determine the likelihood of confusion and trademark dilution: Questions can be tailored to gather insights into how easily consumers confuse the two brands and whether they believe two companies are related or affiliated based on their trademarks.
  • Establish a comparative analysis: Surveys often involve presenting consumers with a side-by-side comparison of the two companies’ names or branding elements. This allows for a direct evaluation of any similarities and differences that may contribute to brand dilution.

Ultimately, consumer confusion survey results can serve as crucial evidence in court. Experts can interpret the data, provide insights on consumer thinking and offer professional opinions on whether brand confusion exists or is likely to exist.

Even though consumer surveys aren’t required in trademark confusion cases, a spate of rulings on infringement cases in recent years (all of which went against the litigant who did not provide survey evidence), have more than established their value. In the words of one court, ““the absence of surveys is evidence that actual confusion cannot be shown.”

Are you worried that a competitor’s use of a similar trademark to that used by your business is going to damage your company’s reputation and siphon away customers? It may help to learn more about trademarks infringement lawsuits and your legal options by seeking guidance from a professional who manages intellectual property cases like yours.