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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


  1. 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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  2. 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.


  3. 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.


  4. 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.

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