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Similar name, different business?

Los Angeles, CA |

I am starting a company and I want a similar name as another company in town . Only a couple letters are different . The business services are entirely different . Is this OK ?

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Attorney answers 4


It doesn't sound like the best of plans. A few characters off can be deceptively similar even if the business is different. However, the factual specifics are important in evaluating your prospects and you've withheld them. You've also not suggested that you've considered the state wide aspects of issue. You should see an attorney to get a better answer

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If the similarity is causing consumer confusion between the two companies, and the other company can show that the confusion is costing them business, you could have a problem. Why go there if you don't have to?

This is general information and not meant as specific legal advice for any particular situation.


Legally it "may" be OK but it's not a good idea, commercially or legally. While your investment is low, seek originality so you are not always having to justify a "technicality" in the future.

The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.

Demosthenis Zeppos

Demosthenis Zeppos


The names can be similar (sometimes the same) if the businesses are distinct and not compettive, but more importantly, that the similar names do not create confusion in the market place. Simply getting a DBA will not suffice, and in some instances, applying for a U.S. Trademark may be a possible solution.


The senior user of a mark can oppose an application even if the business services are entirely different. The Trademark office will look to see if the earlier users mark is strong and the customer perception of the senior mark. If you are offering services in the same town and the marks are are the same/similar in appearance, pronunciation, connotation and commercial impression it could be confusing to customers.

I agree with other answers here that if you intent to go down this path, it is worth consulting a lawyer.

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