RE/MAX International, Inc. brought a trademark infringement suit against Trend Setter Realty, LLC, (“Trend Setter”) for use of “red-over-white-over-blue horizontal bar design” in connection with real estate services. An example of the RE/MAX trademark is on the left, and Trend Setter’s use on the right.
In September 2009, RE/MAX moved for partial summary judgment on its federal and state trademark infringement and unfair competition claims. RE/MAX also sought cancellation of Trend Setter’s registered trademark, because it causes confusion with RE/MAX’s registered trademarks. The court found in favor of RE/MAX, granting RE/MAX’s claim for cancellation of Trend Setter’s trademark registration. Specifically, the court noted that the “use of the red, white, and blue signs in advertising is likely to confuse ordinary consumers,” that both companies advertise similar services using similar advertising means, and survey evidence showed that consumers believed that Trend Setter’s signs promoted RE/MAX. In October 2009, the court enjoined Trend Setter from using, manufacturing, advertising, and distributing the “red-over-white-over-blue” horizontal bar design or confusingly similar designs in connection with real estate services.
TIP: Be aware that trademark infringement may occur not just with respect to names and logos, but for design features as well.