A court held that claim for trade dress infringement can be brought when of the stylistic choices of a website’s design are copied, even if there is no underlying registered trademark.  An action under the Lanham Act for trade dress infringement can be brought to protect the website’s trade dress, or appearance, even when there is no trademark associated with the site.

The court uses a two-step analysis to examine the whether trade dress infringement takes place.  They first examine whether the trade dress is non-functional, distinct, and whether it has attained a secondary meaning.  Then they address whether infringement actually took place by examining the whether they are substantially similar so as to be likely to confuse consumers.

In this case both parties were providers of legal help forms for the construction industry.  And the plaintiff alleged that its competitor stole some of its fonts, colors, and links from its well-recognized page.  The defendant alleged that without a valid trademark there was no valid trade dress claim.

The court held that the claim that similarity of the content could lead to confusion is enough to state a claim for relief.   Further, it stated that under the Lanham Act a claim can be brought for trade dress infringement of a website without the need for a registered trademark

How Can I Help?

If you, or someone you know, need any help with Intellectual Property issues, from filing a patent, trademark or copyright, or just need advice regarding how best to protect your inventions, ideas or your brand, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +