Hello, I own and a business called 3DRS Studio as well as the .com domain for it and other small shop websites setup under that name. My problem is there are other business's with a 3DRS in their name. Is this a problem for me legally?
Most of them aren't related to my field, for instance some are high schools, photograph business's, or animation studios. My business relates closely to 3D character modeling and 2d logo graphic design specifically. Some of these business's are named Studio 3DRS, or 3DRS Design, which closely resembles mine, but not exactly. None of them do exactly what I do and I don't think our clientele would ever overlap, but it is within the same field of 2D design and 3D design and they do have 3DRS in their title. How problematic would this be for me?
I am changing the Practice Area so that your question might be answered by Intellectual Property Attorneys.
The foregoing discussion does not establish an attorney-client relationship, is qualified by the limited facts presented above, and should not be relied upon as legal advice. To obtain definitive legal advice upon which one can rely necessitates retaining an attorney who is qualified in this particular area of the law.
It might be a problem. If the Trademark is similar in sight or sound for a similar type of business then infringement may be a problem. See Counsel.
My comments have been made without discussion. An attorney client relationship has not been established. There may be conflicts which prohibit my providing you with specific legal guidance. Any contact with you beyond these few general words will start with a disclosure of opposing parties so that a conflict check can be made. You should discuss with an attorney.
You were on the right path with your analysis. Yes you can have the same Mark in different classifications and it is permissible. However, you should seek council to be sure you do not have any liability
This could be a problem depending on the likelihood of confusion for consumers. If you are concerned and are planning on doing national marketing and advertising, you may want to make your mark more distinctive.
Many trademarks share the same or very similar terms. For example, Delta Airlines versus Delta faucets. but as the goods and services they identify become more closely related the specter of market confusion increases and infringement claims can be brought. So the simple answer to your question is maybe. You need a proper clearance search.
Before you invest in any trademark make sure you get some legal guidance. 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 OH 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.
In addition to the excellent answers you have received thus far, you should understand that there is a difference between a company name and a trademark, or a domain name and either.
A company name relates to the name registered with the Secretary of State in which you are located and may, or may not, be a trademark. The issue is how that name is used. If it is the wording which the consumer recognizes as the source of a product, then it is likely to be considered a trademark. If it is the faceless corporate entity which the consumer never sees, then likely not. In fact, many corporate names are somewhere in between.
A domain name is the technical identifier which is used to locate websites and also may, or may not, be relevant to the consumer in identifying source.
If you have been operating for some time and there have been no complaints, you may be safe. However, there is always the potential for strife. You might want to find a local IP attorney who offers free initial consultation and discuss this issue, in detail and in private. Good luck.
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