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    Why do we have Trademarks?
    Posted: 2012-06-05 08:30:42

    Some of the main reasons for protecting trademarks are to protect the public from deceit, promote fair competition, and to ensure that businesses have access to the advantages of reputation and goodwill that they are entitled to by the use of their marks.

    Trademark protection assists consumers in making informed decisions when purchasing and distinguishing between products. This ultimately prevents customers from being deceived. This regulation also allows consumers to know that when they purchase a product with a particular mark that they are getting the same product of the same quality. This also allows customers to readily find and identify specific products.

    Protecting trademarks also allows businesses to build their goodwill, distinguish their wares or services from competitors, and encourage consumers to purchase their products. Goodwill is generally considered the positive associations the public has built up towards that business or product that encourages them to purchase it. In a sense, trademarks are symbols of this goodwill. If trademark law is not fostered and protected, businesses will not have the incentive for the continued production of their quality goods or services.

    Although it can be argued that the ambit of trademark protection has increased in favour of owner at the expense of consumers, it should be understood that trademarks serve to promote “fair competition” by allowing businesses some breathing room to compete. Competing businesses make a significant contribution to the marketplace and the economy, and monopolies should be avoided since it goes against economic stimulation and competition. Therefore, trademark protection cannot be exclusive and must provide the opportunity of fair competition even if it comes at the expense of the trademark owner’s rights.

    When two confusing trademarks are competing in the same marketplace, the reasons for protecting trademarks listed above become apparent and protect consumers from deception. At the same time, however, the protection of consumers from deceit becomes an issue when it creates a competitive disadvantage for businesses. The Legislature places great importance in the public’s interest since many unfair trademark practices are determined by the likelihood of consumer confusion as opposed to the financial impact to the trademark owner. The latter is certainly considered; however, the former is often front and centre in the analysis.

    Allowing fair competition and providing businesses with incentives to put out the best products on the market does affect trademark owners, but at the same time it also ultimately benefits the public at large. This gives the public access to more products, of more quality and with less likelihood of confusion. This is also seen in copyright law since it provides incentives for creators to create works which are provided to the public to ultimately receive remuneration.

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