Harper Litigation Consulting and Research : 214-244-4608


Trademark Surveys – General Standards of Admissibility

Trademark Surveys

General Standards of Admissability

Courts consider the following factors when determining the admissibility of a Lanham Act survey. Specifically, whether the:

  1. Relevant Universe
  2. Proper Sample
  3. Data Collection
  4. Analysis
  5. Control
  6. Procedures & Protocols
  7. Objectivity

1.  Relevant Universe

Reliable trademark surveys examine and measure the responses of purchasers and potential purchasers of the products at issue (i.e., the relevant universe). Surveys have been criticized where the universe either excludes potential purchasers (under-inclusive) or is overbroad (over-inclusive).

2. Sample

Testing all prospective purchasers in the relevant universe is most oftentimes impossible. The expert must employ sampling procedures that statistically project results to the entire universe. Courts demand that such procedures be in accord with accepted, unbiased statistical principles.

3. Data Collection Method

Online surveys have become the most popular type of survey.

4. Collection & Analysis

The data must be accurately collected, reported and analyzed in accordance with accepted statistical procedures. Courts demand that specific controls be employed to eliminate false or inaccurate results.

5. Control/Noise

Most courts will demand that a survey include a control in order to address possible noise among consumers (the “any two marks” factor). Using a control group(s) or question(s), the survey expert can test directly the influence of the stimulus. In some survey methods, however, a control group or question is not required.

6. Procedures and Protocols

The survey must be designed and deployed using professional procedures and protocols. For example, courts will refuse to admit surveys employing leading or confusing survey questions. In non-internet deployed surveys, courts generally require a very high standard of verification to ensure accuracy and to accord proper weight to the evidence. Some courts have refused surveys that do not employ a verification. A typical verification strategy is to call back 25% of all survey participants and confirm their answers.

7. Objectivity

Generally, courts require a "double blind" survey process which ensures that the client behind the survey is unknown to the survey platform and the participants.

Learn more about Harper Litigation Consulting And Research and expert witness Rhonda Harper.

Professional Memberships