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Can my business name be similar to another business name if my name contains one additional word which makes it different?

Oakland, CA |

I have a business name that is similar to one of my competitors unintentionally. I have built on the name and branded my products, cards etc. and I am in love with my company name. My name is similar but mines contains one additional word and the products that I will offer on-line will be much more extensive than my competitors. I will offer baby, girls, women, and boys clothing, gifts for the entire family, furniture, home decor, wedding gifts, shower gifts and many more. My competitor offers products for baby's and children only. Both of our stores are on line and there are already two other stores that have a similar name that seem to be continuing business with no problem. My website is being designed and it has a totally different flare, more of a larger retail store feel. Help Please!

Attorney Answers 4

Posted

More facts are needed for a reliable answer to your question. Those issues include : did you check if the name that you want to use has a copyright? Trademark? You state other businesses use similar name for years. How many businesses and for how many years? This is very important. The truth of the matter is that you are in almost the same business with the other "competitor" .That can create legal issues. You really need someone that is an entrepreneurial attorney to assist you with all the above prior of spending more money with the name you want to use.

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Asker

Posted

Thank you Athina. To answer your questions; yes, I did search to see if the company has a registered trademark and copyright and no results were found. One similar business name has been using their name for two years. Somthing may have occurred, but when I last checked there were two business's, now I see only the one I described. The original company I inquired about has had their name three months prior to my own. This is so confusing because when I look in the phonebook, I see hundreds of listings in the same categories such as restaurants, nail and beauty salons, automotive repair and wonder how have they continued to use their names when company A, B and C are so very similar and some of them are in the same locality? Any advice is appreciated.

Athina Karamanlis Powers

Athina Karamanlis Powers

Posted

You don't search in the phone book . This is a search in the copyright office. If nobody filed that copyright or trademark you need to file ASAP for your business. The law changed and now who ever files first gets the name. I hope I helped u

Asker

Posted

Hi Athina, I didn't search in the phone book for the trademark and copyright, I used the United States Patent and Trademark office and the US Copyright Office. I didn't see anything on either. I used the phone book for my own justification or shall I say trying to rationalize with myself keeping the business name. So what your suggesting is that if neither has dones so, I should go ahead and file so I can continue usage of my business name?

Athina Karamanlis Powers

Athina Karamanlis Powers

Posted

Base to the facts you gave us yes

Athina Karamanlis Powers

Athina Karamanlis Powers

Posted

Be absolutely sure that nobody filed before u

Asker

Posted

I see. When I search the USPTO website and a record shows the filing date, is this the filing date that I go by?

Athina Karamanlis Powers

Athina Karamanlis Powers

Posted

Y good luck

Asker

Posted

Thank you for your help.

Athina Karamanlis Powers

Athina Karamanlis Powers

Posted

I wish u all the luck and success

Posted

I agree with my colleagues: Rights and obligations in a situation such as yours are highly fact-dependent.

The only way you can obtain an answer - and, even then, it may not be definitive - is to discuss all of the relevant facts with with a qualified lawyer, who then can render an opinion.

This information does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

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Posted

Thank you Dana, I am definitely keeping this in mind.

Posted

I agree with my colleagues. You may want to think about a situation where you are very successful in what you are doing and making your namesakes jealous, whose products are of low quality. You may want to consider business strategy, rather than love for a name.

This is not a legal advice or solicitation, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Consult with an attorney. I work for Cardinal Risk Mangement and Cardinal Intellectual Property, IP service companies, but not law firms. I also am the president of Vepachedu Educational Foundation Inc., which is a non profit educational foundation. I also write cultural and scientific compliations for the foundation. I also teach at Northwestern university as a guest lecturer. I also provide some pro-bono guidance on immigration and other issues through Indian American Bar Association. I also have a contract with Cardinal Law Group, a law firm, for IP projects. All this information is on my profile at Avvo and also at Linkedin. Any views/opinions expressed in any context are my personal views in individual capacity only, and do not represent the views and opinions of any firm, client, or anyone else, and is not sponsored or endorsed by them in any way.

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Posted

Thank you. I take your response as confirmation to what I had also given thought to as well. I know that the quality and uniqueness of my products, company name and website could cause the other companies to become a bit jealous. I will definitely keep all of this in mind. Thanks again.

Posted

Your situation looks, tastes and smells of future problems. You have a two-fold analysis as follows: 1.) Your legal analysis and 2.) Your business analysis. In regard to the legal analysis, if the competitors are pre-existing in the business it really may be a tough go. It’s sort of the Silicon Valley syndrome where the big guys litigate the little guys out of business. Even if you stand on al fours legally you may not be able to afford to defend yourself in court till final resolution at the end of a trial. From my recollection of past history I don’t think you can open up any kind of business selling food with the name of McDonalds even though that’s your own family name. If your competition is not enormous in size maybe you don’t have to worry so much about the business factor. In regard to legal analysis it’s going to take a very comprehensive review by a competent attorney. You must give him or her all available information, data, statistics, comparison of products, etc.

If you have found this information helpful, please let the attorney know by marking best answer. Thank you. This participating Attorney does not warrant any information provided, nor are we creating an Attorney-Client relationship by providing said information to you on this site. Nothing contained herein is intended to constitute, offer, induce, promise, or contract of any kind. The content provided is presented as a courtesy to be used only for informational purposes and is not represented to be error free. The Law Offices of John N. Kitta makes no representations or warranties of any kind with respect to its answer to inquiries, and such representations and warranties are being expressly disclaimed. Given limited facts, we are attempting to share relevant information concerning this area of the law as a public service.

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