I'm starting a Spanish Classes business here in USA, and I finally choose a name. Then I did a research online, and I found a company in Argentina that has the same name, they offer birthday parties organization. Could I still use the name here in USA without getting in trademark trouble?
Your name is important as it becomes your trademark (TM), identifying your company to the world. You should choose carefully and do a thorough search for any existing marks that would be confusingly similar (Google trademark" and "likelihood of confusion"). This search should be done by an experienced TM attorney, and then registered with the USPTO. As for Argentinian company, unless they are so famous, people you offer classes to would know their name, it is not likely they would have any problem of you having the same name, but you never know. Hire a TM attorney and do it right.
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The best we can do is say "maybe." As pointed out in the other answer, there might be US rights, or there might not. And likelihood of confusion will consider the similarity in the services, as well as the marks, plus other factors like the strength of the mark. Some courts list a dozen factors to consider. Hire a trademark lawyer to get an opinion based on the actual facts.
It is only a problem if the entity in Argentina has already entered the US market or perhaps (and this is likely not the case) they are a very famous brand in say Latin America and it would be fundamentally unfair for you to capture on that popularity here in the US.
That said, 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 DC 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-Lapin, LLC on the basis of this posting.
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