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    7 Replies Latest reply on Sep 18, 2011 2:08 PM by Moderator Jim

    Same company name

    musicsmysoul Newbie



      I was wondering if someone could help me with a legal question? I have been trying to do some research on the issue but it seems impossible to track down a real answer.


      I started a marketing agency w/ a partner last year (we are a general partnership) and named it after a constellation (let's call it "A" for this post's sake) -- so, "A Communications."  I had searched my state records and did not find a company of this name. I had googled and also couldn't find much (i was the first to use "" and also on twitter, fbook and linkedin.) However, when I looked at the trademark office site, quite a few of "A" came up (just "A" not "A Communications" -- dozens, actually. At first I thought since it was such a common name, can everyone trademark it if its in a diff industry?


      In the end, there were about 3 others I was worried about --  one titled "A Communications", which was in another state and it was in the telecommunications industry (their trademark filing expired in 2008).  The second was called "A Marketing" (I couldn't find a trademark) and also in another state (while they are marketing they do database marketing which is completely diff than my company).  The third was a product name (just "A")  in the medical industry and in another state.


      What steps can I take to ensure I'm safe? I already have filed a DBA in my state and have an EID. Would I have been able to do that if I was doing something illegal?


      Any help is much appreciated - thanks!



        • Re: Same company name
          LUCKIEST Guide


          Heather is asking two questions, One LEGAL?? The other ILLEGAL??
          Heather needs HER Lawyer

            • Re: Same company name
              SBC Team Guide

              Hi Luckiest,


              We could ALL use a good lawyer, however not everyone can afford one.  As you know, some lawyers charge $750 per hour (or much more). 


              Heather came here looking for advice and answers to her questions.  The goal of this community is to try and help people here (in the community), whenever possible.


              You have a lot of business experience.  Do you have any advice or guidance regarding Heather's trademark questions?  What specifically about her second question makes in "Illegal"?  Can you please elaborate?


              Heather- Welcome to the community!


              The SBOC Team

                • Re: Same company name
                  LUCKIEST Guide

                  SBOC Team, It is by belief that EVERYBODY going into business should have the  best tools or assets available to them.

                  In my mind, that included an accountant, a lawyer, a banker and an insurance agent.

                  Heather is asking a "legal" question. I am not a lawyer and only a lawyer should answer a legal question.

                    • Re: Same company name
                      musicsmysoul Newbie

                      Thank you, SBOC team.


                      I was under the impression that this forum was for business owners who wanted advice.  This should be a community where people want to help one another, not post unhelpful rants.

                      • Re: Same company name
                        SBC Team Guide

                        Thanks, Luckiest.


                        I whole-heartedly agree with you that every small business owner (or prospective business owner) should have access the best accountants, lawyers, bankers and an insurance agents.


                        Unfortunately, the "best tools or assets available" are simply out of reach for most small business folks, especially in this economy.  Small businesses are simply struggling to survive. To pay the bills and make payroll month after month is a major victory right now, let alone making a decent profit.


                        In my earlier example, if an attorney charges $750 per hour, and you use five hours of their time (which in not much time), you would pay them $3,750.  Now, that same $3,750 could pay their entire rent for a month.  Or, it could easily pay for three months worth of Google AdWords advertising.


                        Again, we would all love to have the best attorneys, accountants and insurance professionals at our disposal.  Unfortunately, that is just not a reality for the majority of small business owners.  They are in "bootstrap" mode.


                        So, let's do our best to help each other in this community for free.  There are a bunch of the "best of the best" people here who are willing to provide advice and guidance at no cost.  That is the beauty of this community.


                        Thanks again,


                        SBOC Team

                  • Re: Same company name
                    Barky Dog Tracker

                    Hi Heather,


                    This can be a tricky situation.  Part of the equation is how aggressivly the company with the same name in another state wants to pursue protecting its name, regardless of whether it is right or not.  I remember reading about Starbucks going after a mom and pop coffee shop named "SamBucks".  Get this- the name of the coffee shop's owner was "Sam Buck"!  Starbucks still went after them in court!


                    I found some good advice on the US Small Business Administration's website.  It says: "If you find a business operating under your proposed name, you may still be able to use it, provided your business and the existing business offer different goods/services or are located in different regions.


                    However, avoid naming your business after a prominent existing trademark or any trademarks that are indistinguishable to your proposed name that provide the same goods/services, as it may violate trademark law. Keep in mind that federally registered trademarks are protected across the United States."


                    You can read the full article on the SBA website here.  Hopefully, this will help provide some guidance for you.


                    Good luck!