I AM planning to start a church and social movement called: " jedi gigolo." Can I use this term without fear of legal action?
Disney may squash you like a bug.
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No. The word "Jedi" serves as a trademark -- perhaps a "famous" one. While it's lawful to use that word to refer to the Jedi characters in the Star Wars films, and as an adjective in prose to note that a person is a master at some skill, it's almost certainly unlawful to use the word to brand a product or service (yes, "a church and social movement" is a service). Query a search engine for the term 'jidai-geki" -- which is the Japanese origin of "Jedi." And speak with your own Illinois-licensed intellectual property attorney about how to brand your ... interesting potential business. Good luck.
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You may be liable for at least trademark infringement and/or trademark dilution.
You should discuss with an intellectual property attorney in a private consultation.
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The problem is that you can be held liable for presenting a false association, sponsorship, endorsement or other affiliation with another trademark owner or enterprise. Using a famous trademark like JEDI in your own trademark is likely going to cause this kind of problem.
Before you invest in any trademark make sure you get some legal guidance upfront. It is of course best practice to clear it before you start using any trademark and starting with a strong one is your best strategy. Know as well that merely registering your business name with a state or county agency or acquiring a domain does not convey any right to use that name in commerce as a source identifier or trademark. For example, I can presumably register my new tech start up "Boogle" with the IL secretary of state because there is no other business already doing business there under that name, but this does not mean that I would not be infringing on the Google trademark, which I would be. The onus is on you to ensure the name you choose is not a problem.
Your trademark will be one of if not the most important and valuable business assets you will have and you will ultimately spend more money in support if it than you will anywhere else (advertising, marketing, PR, branding, packaging, etc.). So you owe it to your business and yourself to make sure you handle this properly upfront and the first order of business always starts with a proper and comprehensive clearance.
Whenever you endeavor into investing in a trademark it is very important that you conduct the proper clearance due diligence on all the text names upfront and before you start spending any money in support of it or submit an application to the USPTO. In the US, this means searching under both federal (USPTO) as well as common law because trademark rights stem from use in this country NOT registration. This means that acquiring a federal registration does not necessarily mean that you are not infringing on another's intellectual property.
I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with and know you are free to work with counsel located anywhere as you have many options available not just those that provide services in your home state.
DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed with the law firm of Natoli-Legal, LLC on the basis of this posting.
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