Reverse-Confusion Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Reverse confusion doctrine is a principle of intellectual property that if the public gets confused by the defendant's use of a title which is very much similar to the one used by the plaintiff and it leads the public to believe that the plaintiff's work is the same as the defendant's, or that it is derived from or associated in some manner with the defendant then it amounts to unfair competition.

Reverse confusion exists when a junior user uses its size and market penetration to overwhelm the senior, but smaller, user. The senior user is the first to adopt and use a mark anywhere in the country. The junior user is the second user, regardless of whether it adopts and uses a mark in a geographically remote location. The reverse confusion doctrine protects the senior user's control of its mark and the goodwill created by the mark from a junior user's employment of the mark and protects the public from being deceived into believing that the senior user's product emanates from, is connected to, or is sponsored by the junior user.[Lucent Info. Mgmt. v. Lucent Techs., Inc., 186 F.3d 311 (3d Cir. Del. 1999)]