No willfulness required in trademark infringement - US Supreme Court

In Romag Fasteners, Inc. v. Fossil, Inc. (April 23, 2020), a unanimous decision, the United States Supreme Court determined that a plaintiff in a trademark infringement suit is not required to show that a defendant willfully infringed the plaintiff’s trademark as a precondition to a profits award.

Romag Fasteners, Inc. and Fossil, Inc. has an agreement for using Romag's fasteners in Fossil's leather goods. Romag found out that factories making Fossil products were using counterfeit Romag fasteners. Romag sued Fossil and some retailers of Fossil products under 35 U.S.C. §1125(a) for trademark infringement.

The court determined that §1125(a) has never required a showing of willful infringement for profits award in a trademark infringement suit. In contrast, willful infringement is required for recovery under §1125(c), dilution.

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