A co-existence agreement is an agreement that regulates the use and registration of similar or identical trademarks for related products and services in the same or similar markets by two or more trademark holders. It allows the parties to set their own rules for the peaceful coexistence of trademarks, without the risk of confusion. A trademark agreement is usually a simple contract by which a party agrees to authorize the use and/or registration of a trademark that overlaps with another party. The parties also state that their brands are not confusing to consumers. Often, this type of agreement is used when a company has received or is anticipating a refusal to register by the USPTO (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office). Problems begin when this distinguishing function no longer works, because the companies for which the trademarks were originally used begin to overlap. Thus, brands that once happily co-exist, suddenly find themselves in conflict. This is particularly frustrating if both companies use their identical brands in good faith – in other words, where they both have a track record of the actual use of their respective brands, but are starting to turn to each other`s territories because of business expansion.
In some cases, if two companies know that they are using similar or identical brands, they may opt for a formal co-existence agreement to prevent the future use of the two brands from overlapping to the point of making them undesirable or hurtful. This article describes the situations in which coexistence can occur and introduces a number of points to be taken into account when considering a co-existence agreement. The process of selecting a brand should be carried out with caution and foresight, carry out as complete a search as possible, preferably with the help of a specialist. If, despite these efforts, a conflict with the same or similar brand in the market is created, then a co-existence agreement may be less costly than a legal confrontation. This is not to say that it is always better to capitulate and accept a coexistence in the face of litigation, but in some situations, litigation may be the only appropriate response. It is up to the trademark holders to assess, in all cases, what would be appropriate given their particular circumstances. Brand co-existence describes a situation in which two different companies use a similar or identical brand to market one product or service without necessarily interfering with the activities of the other. This is not unusual. Brands are often used by small businesses in a limited geographic area or with a regional clientele.
Almost all French cities with a train station, for example, have their own buffet restaurant at the station. Often, trademarks are made up of the name of the person who started a business, and where that name is common, it is not uncommon to find similar companies under the same name or name. None of this should give rise to conflicts or disputes as long as the brands concerned continue to fulfil their primary mission of distinguishing the goods or services for which they are used from those of competitors. A brand co-existence agreement is a broader agreement that offers even greater protection than a simple approval agreement. Co-existence agreements generally include unique restrictions on sites, industries and/or marketing methods in which two parties can use their respective trademarks. These specifications apply in addition to the points mentioned above in the approval agreement. Co-existence agreements are particularly useful for companies wishing to develop and avoid future infringement procedures and/or litigation. An agreement on the coexistence of trademarks should clearly include: all parties to the agreement, the trademarks or logos indicated to co-exist, an agreement on the domain names used by each party, a list of the areas and geographical areas that contain the trademarks or logos in which coexistence is permitted and prohibited, as well as all relevant plans for the expansion of the company.