Two Companies, Same Names: Is This Trademark Infringement?

So, you want to start a business. After a lot of research, you have a perfect name for your company. The name represents the company and its services the exact way you wish. But you are worried whether or not there is someone else with the same business name. And what are the chances of your company getting under the compass of trademark name infringement if you use the same name as others’? So the question is, if two companies have same name, is this trademark infringement or not?

So the questions are numerous, let us find answers to these dilemmas, one by one.

What is in the name?

A lot, a company’s name builds its reputation and customer base. Millions of people recognize Starbucks purely by their logo and name, only a hundreds know the company’s owner. Consumers rarely know the owners and CEOs, but they know the products, services, and names of the companies. Even if it is a limited liability company or limited partnership, your LLP’s name is the king. 

Needless to say, the name of a company serves as the key marketing device and identity builder. Every company, be it small, mid-size, or large, spends a huge amount of time on marketing. The purpose is to ensure that customers not only recognize their products but also remember them.

Are you planning to begin with your own startup? Read how trademark can change the game of your success

Two companies with same name, Is this possible?

YES, two companies can have the same name as long as it is not creating any confusion among customers.

What does Trademark law say about two companies having the same name?

The core guiding principle behind trademark law is to eliminate consumer confusion in terms of a trademark, a name mark in this case. One gets legal protections under trademark rights when they register their trademark at federal level. Some major factors that come into consideration while deciding on this confusion factor are:

  • Are the two companies in the same industry?
  • Are the two companies in the same geographic location?
  • Which of the two companies used the name first?
  • Which of the two companies registered the name first?

If the two companies operate in different sectors and locations, then there are no issues at all.

What if the two companies offer similar services in the same geographical area?

In this case, the situation gets a bit tricky. Generally, court follows a common procedure to resolve such issues:

  • First and foremost, we consider nature of the industry, i.e., goods and services provided by the two businesses. If the two companies lie in the same economic sector or geographical location, owners need to determine who used and registered the mark name first.
  • Under trademark law, the rights are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. A company that can prove that it had the business name first will end up retaining the trademark rights.
  • If a company was using the trademark first (first use rule) and the other one registered it, then the first one can use it only in the specified geographical area without permission to expand their coverage with the same name. To expand its business operations, the company will need a separate name.

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Can my company have the same name as another company?

It depends on various factors. Let us solve this same name dilemma by considering three cases.

Case 1: Under trademark law, it is impermissible to have two bakery shops with the same logo and name just across the street from one another. The reason is obvious, the customers will not be able to differentiate between their products. As a result, a bakery providing delicious and quality cakes may lose out to the one with average cakes putting the latter at an unfair advantage.

Case 2: Two bakeries with different logos can exist even in the same streets as different names and logo marks. This applies even if the trademarks are not registered because there is no chance of customer confusion here. 

Case 3: A bakery and an automobile shop with the same name can exist in the same geographical location. This is because their products and services are so different that there is no chance of overlapping. We can also consider trademark classes here. Thus, if the same business name comes under different trademark classes, this isn’t a case of infringement. This applied even to businesses with the same names in the same area but of course, covered different trademark classes.

If you have registered your business name, you get to access so many legal benefits of being a business owner. However, this does not prevent anyone else from using your company name.

By the way, under which trademark class your business name is covered? Don’t know, find out here: A to Z of Trademark Classes

How to find out if a business name is taken or not?

The simple answer to this is Trademark Search. Trademark search is an exercise that searches through identical as well as similar names. The results help you analyze through all the relevant results in the market. A trademark search is the only way to find out if a company name is available or not. However, trademark search involves extensive digging and complex searches by using numerous tools. While conducting a trademark search, you will need to apply numerous tactics and make use of premium tools to check if a business name is trademarked. This is why your safest bet is to hire a pro to conduct a business name trademark search for you.

How can I protect my company’s name?

There are 3 primary ways to protect your company mark from infringement:

  1. Incorporate your company: By incorporating your business at state and federal offices, You can reserve your company’s name use just for yourself.
  2. Trademark Registration: Registering your mark name at USPTO will give trademark rights to your business name. Under trademark law, you will have exclusive right to initiate legal action against infringement of your service marks. 
  3. Trademark Monitoring: After getting federal trademark protection under USPTO, next step is to keep a watch on your trademark. By monitoring your registered trademark, you can find out what someone else is using a similar mark. And if someone is using the same mark to market same goods and services, you can take legal action against them.

How to protect my domain name?

Domain names have a significant role when it comes to trademark registration. The rules under trademark laws extend to the company’s domain name as well. Therefore, if a company is using the same domain name as yours, you have the option to resort to legal action under trademark infringement.

How do I settle a name dispute with another business?

In case you find a company with the same name, trademark, or domain name as yours, you can send them a cease and desist letter to warn. A cease and desist letter is framed by a trademark attorney and serves the purpose of warning the infringer that you are aware of the trademark law. In case the infringer does not respond or continue to use the name, the only option left is to take legal action.

Choose TMReady

At TMready, we provide full-proof solutions both preventing you from infringing on others’ trademarks and preventing infringement of your trademark as well. Our professional team performs comprehensive trademark searches to ensure that your company name is unique and is not infringing upon any of the existing brand names. A trademark search confirms business name availability. And our trademark monitoring services continuously keep an eye to make sure that no company uses your business name or trademark. Have any more questions? Visit us here

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