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Considering using a name for my business that a published book uses as part of its title -- legal issues?

San Francisco, CA |

I'm thinking of business names for my new venture and came across one I liked. After researching if that name was already taken, I couldn't find a business with this name. However I did find a published book (in 2004) that has my potential business name as part of its title.

(example: my business name = "365 Days of Awesomeness"; book title found = "365 Days of Awesomeness Raising Dogs")

Could there be a potential legal issue using this as my business name? This particular book is the ONLY reference I could find that uses my potential business name... and my name is only partly being used in the title.

Any input would be appreciated. Thanks!

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Attorney answers 4


Q: I'm thinking of business names for my new venture and came across one I liked.

R: Stop right there. Locate a trademark attorney, ask him or her to "clear the rights," and then either use the name if you get a green light or look for a new name if you get a red light. 'Nuff said.


Just to add to what Mr. Ballard advised, keep in mind that a good trademark attorney when instructed to "clear the rights" will understand that you don't want to waste time and money on a full blown trademark search until that attorney has first conducted a preliminary or "knock out" search that is quicker and less expensive to start the process. If the "knock out" search does not show someone else already using your desired name, you go to the next step. You should of course share with that attorney the results of any searching around that you have already done on your own -- especially the fact that the only thing you have found so far is a book title.


The prior answers are exactly right, Get an attorney and proceed with a plan. In a general way, the process will normally be broken into components. Your attorney will be able to advise you first whether the business name you desire is or can be a trademark. If the mark is a generic term for your goods or services you should pick a new mark. Second the trademark attorney will proceed to do the knock out search and then a more comprehensive search. all with the objective of determining if there is someone with a superior right to the mark for the same goods and services. Any prior user may have limited or no rights that would interfere with your use. Good luck.


Adding to what has already been said, generally single book titles themselves are not trademark worthy, so unless the author of the book is using the proposed mark in another way to promote goods or services, you likely will find the name clear. Definitely run a search though, in case there are other uses out there that you for whatever reason could not find.
Good luck.

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