Trademark News & Screw-ups Dunkin' Donuts claims trademark infringement by new North Attleboro coffee shop

Intention to create confusion CAN play a role in trademark infringement cases but the defendant's intention to infringe is not required for the trademark owner to win the case. In other words, if the plaintiff can prove that the defendant knowingly and intentionally created an impression that their products or services are somehow related to those of the plaintiff, then even if the trademarks side by side are not very close, the courts may take the view that the plaintiff's trademark was infringed. However, just because the defendant used a similar brand without any intention to infringe—even if the defendant had no idea about the plaintiff or their trademark—is not a good enough defense. That's one benefit of registering trademarks: it creates a presumption of ownership and validity and it also creates a presumption that everyone is put on notice about your trademark. In other words, even if no one IN FACT knows about your trademark, everyone is PRESUMED to know about it. Whether or not "North Runs on Mike's" was confusingly similar to "America Runs on Dunkin" we'll never know, since this case will not see the light of a courtroom because the small coffee shop prudently decided not to get into a legal fight with a multi-million dollar giant.

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