If another business has the same name are you in trouble? If you have an online presence it is likely only a matter of time before your business receives nastygram or threatening email from somebody accusing your business of infringing on another business's trademark by copying their business name, slogan, or logo. Cease and Desist letters are ubiquitous. The short answer is, “it depends.” It depends on: - Whether the other business is in the same industry - Whether the other business is in the same geographical market - Who was using the mark first - Who registered the trademark first. As many legal issues turn on the circumstances surrounding the issue, so here are a few assumptions before diving into the details: - Trademarks include slogans, logos, trade dress, business names, and so forth, you these are interchangeable in the examples below. - Very Famous Marks play by a different set of rules so the examples below assume the marks are not famous marks. - Your business name is a registerable/eligible trademark. So if you receive the nastygram or cease and desist letter here are a few questions to answer first:
Does the business claiming infringement operate in the same geographic market?
If your customers are in different geographical regions, there is less likely to be customer confusion because you don't have the same customers. However, the internet complicates things because if both businesses are online you may have overlapping markets. If your customers are in different geographical regions, there is less likely to be customer confusion because you don't have the same customers. However, the internet complicates things because if both businesses are online you may have overlapping markets.
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