Our church, Bethany Christian Church, is registered in Nassau county court of NY. Recently we saw the same name in the business name database of NYS. We understand each entity is still legal. New York city is outside Nassau county.
Family Law Attorney
Once NYS allows an entity to be formed under a certain name, it is legal for that entity to conduct business in NY. That doesn't mean that an entity legally established and registered with the NYS Secretary of State is clear from possible Trademark infringement claims by others for using their name. In short, the business registration has little direct impact on the issue of which entity has superior trademark rights. There don't appear to be any Federal Registrations and a quick google search reveals Bethany Christian Churches in just about every state with nearly 5 million hits for "Bethany Christian Church", so neither Church can likely prevent the other from conducting business.
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Intellectual Property Law Attorney
Due to its well known descriptive biblical mention, Bethany is a widely used geographic term. I used to live in Bethany, CT where there were several "Bethany" churches. No church can likely claim exclusive rights to that very common name except in a very small local area, and even then another church could just add a word. For example, Bethany Methodist Church could likely never stop Bethany Lutheran Church, even across the street from each other.
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3 lawyers agree
I agree with both of my colleagues here.
Registering a business with NYS has no bearing on the underlying trademark rights. That is, the state is only considered if there is another business registered with the exact same name. In the last couple years, we have noticed that the NY Secretary of State has been getting a little more picky about this in that they will sometimes push back if a new business's name is too close to another but in general if it is not a direct conflict the state will accept it.
Further, and as Mr. Burdick articulated, your business name is so common that I think you will have next to no way of protecting it as a trademark. That is, while you are free to use it you will likely not be able to prevent anyone from using it either. I live in an area of NYC that has a lot of churches and there are a few within walking distance of each other that have nearly the same name.
You may want to discuss your siutation over with a lawyer in private to explore your best course of action. Most of us here, including myself, offer a free phone consult.
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Also, a Church is not a business but a charitable organization (at least I hope it is), so the rules are a little bit different. Still, my colleagues here are right in that registering the entity with the State is one matter, whereas possible trademark is another.
Contracts / Agreements Lawyer
First, there seems to be quite a bit of confusion surrounding the formation of business entities in New York. The only entity in New York State that can register business entities is the NY Secretary of State. You cannot form a business entity by filing something with a court, in any county of NY.
The proper place to search for registered business entities is this link:
this search only reveals 1 Bethany Christian Church registered in the state of NY
If you are talking about filing a doing business as name with the county as outlined here:
That is not a real business entity, that is permission from the county for an individual to say they are doing business in a name other than their own.
The Nassau County website says "If you plan to conduct business in other counties, you must file your business name with the Clerk of each of those counties."
Secondly, you can not register multiple entities with exactly the same name in NY, it may be possible, but a name search is done and if the business name you would like is already in use, you are asked to make your name unique before you can register a new business entity. But that is not directly related to a trademark dispute, a trademark is independent of a state business entity name.
Thirdly, what do you mean by "being allowed to conduct business"? That is a broad term that could encompass a number of things.
You need to engage an attorney to discuss with you these questions. Most offer free consultations.