Trademark Infringement and Product Disparagement

Advertisers frequently make their cases by comparing one product or service to a competitor’s. When that comparison is false or misleading, however, the advertising crosses the line into a type of false advertising called product disparagement. Product disparagement -- also called commercial disparagement, product defamation, trade libel or slander of goods -- is a false statement about a product that hurts its maker. Victims of product disparagement can sue the perpetrators under both state product disparagement laws and the federal Lanham Act, the law that protects trademarks.

Businesses have filed product disparagement lawsuits over:

  • False or misleading comparisons in advertising
  • False statements about a competing product’s quality, pricing or other aspects
  • False accusations of dishonesty, patent infringement or other negative business practices by the competing company
  • Placing articles in the media with negative statements about a competitor
  • Advertising a product using a logo, packaging or other symbols very similar to those of a competitor
  • Online product disparagement and trademark infringement

To win an Illinois product disparagement lawsuit, plaintiffs must show that the defendant intentionally and knowingly made the false or misleading statements and that the falsehood harmed the plaintiff’s profits. Importantly, plaintiffs can claim only demonstrated loss of profits in an Illinois commercial disparagement action. But under the Lanham Act, businesses claiming trademark infringement and false claims by a competitor may also claim the defendant’s profits from the product disparagement, as well as the costs of bring a lawsuit. In some cases, they may claim up to triple their actual damages.

As a full-service Chicago firm of trademark lawyers, we help our clients through every step of the case, starting with an initial letter demanding a stop to the offensive advertising. If this does not produce results, we have had success winning pre-trial injunctions requiring the defendant to cease its false advertising. If necessary, however, we are fully prepared to take your case to a court of law. Our firm has decades of experience with complex business litigation, in both state and federal courts and in alternative dispute resolution venues.

We have represented large and mid-sized companies in complicated intellectual property cases sometimes involving many millions of dollars in claimed damages. We serve as regular intellectual property counsel to a software makers and other types of companies and also have defended a number of intellectual property matters. Our Chicago trademark attorneys invest a lot of time in understanding the issues at stake in your case and finding needed experts to simplify and best present to the court or jury any complex expert issues or matter that you to be resolved in your case. Our clients have entrusted us with matters that have an enormous impact on their businesses. Their copyrights or trademarks often form the heart of their businesses. We thus need to develop litigation and licensing strategies with them that best protect their valuable property rights and ensure that such rights are not misappropriated by unscrupulous businesses. We offer free consultations with prospective clients giving them the chance to determine if we are the best qualified firm to represent them in their trademark or copyright litigation matters. We pride ourselves in spending the time needed to ensure that our clients get the best possible representation.

If your business is a victim of false or misleading product comparisons, product disparagement or trademark infringement and you’d like to fight back, the Chicago trademark lawyers at Lubin Austermuehle, P.C. can help. We represent clients throughout Illinois as well as in Wisconsin and Indiana. To set up a free, confidential consultation with a trademark attorney in the Chicago area, please contact us through our Web site or call 630-333-0333 locally and 1-833-306-4933 anywhere in the United States.

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