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Is our landlord allowed to lease space to a company who provides the same services we provide and uses a similar name?

Boston, MA |

We don't have a non-compete clause in our lease. We provide health care services and have been in practice as an LLC for 20 years (at this site for 6 ). Our landlord rented space right next to us to a company from another town dba as the same name and providing the same services as us. Before they moved in, their mail began arriving in our office. That's how we learned of their pending arrival. This confusion caused violations in HIPAA patient privacy laws. We asked, but the new company refused to change their dba name. So we had no choice but to hire an atty or we'd have been out of compliance with HIPAA regulations in not protecting our pt privacy. Can our landlord be held responsible for not preventing this obvious and foreseeable confusion and interference with our business?

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

Some commercial leases provide for exclusivity within a type of service does yours? If not, then your landlord doesn't owe you any contractual or other duty to prevent competition within the site and isn't restricted in who they choose to rent to.

So your fight, if you have one regarding trademark infringement due to actual consumer confusion, is with the other tenant. It does sound like you'd have a trademark infringement claim, which hopefully your lawyer is pursuing.

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Posted

This seems like you need to bring your lease to an attorney for review. You should also ask about trade name protection.

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Posted

I agree with both attorneys who previously answered your request. Based on what you've written, it does not appear that you have any grounds for pursuing a claim against your landlord. It is common, and frankly necessary, to negotiate an exclusivity arrangement with one's landlord prior to signing a lease. If your lease does not have such a provision, there may be some other avenues for pursuing the landlord depending on the other provisions in the document (or lack thereof.) However, without reviewing a signed copy of your lease, I cannot make a firm answer.

It also appears that you may have a number of claims against your neighboring tenant including a potential trademark violation. You should be certain to make an appointment with an attorney in your area who has significant experience in small business litigation to determine the best course of action.

Please do feel free to make contact with me if you have additional questions.

This answer is not intended to provide specific legal advice. No attorney client relationship between you and Shoffner & Associates or any of its attorneys is established, intended ,or implied. This answer should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction regarding your particular situation. Any advice contained in this communication is not intended to be used and cannot be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding Federal tax penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer.

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