If there is a trademark on National Notary from the National Notary Association, can they sue me for having the company name, First National Notary Group? I received a cease and desists letter in the mail from them and they are requiring me to change my company name. Thanks!
2 Answers from Attorneys
Sure, they can sue you. Whether they will win or not depends on many factors. The name "National Notary" may not be a strong trademark because it is descriptive. However, the name could have acquired secondary meaning, thus rendering it registerable as a trademark.
You should retain a trademark attorney. S/he will evaluate the facts and will respond to the letter. You should not assume you have to change your company name until advised to do so by an attorney after careful evaluation.
If a party owns the rights to a particular trademark, that party can sue subsequent parties for trademark infringement. The standard for infringement is \"likelihood of confusion.\" To be more specific, the use of a trademark in connection with the sale of a goods or services constitutes infringement if it is likely to cause consumer confusion as to the source, sponsorship or approval of such goods or services. Here, the similarity of your company name (First National Notary Group) to the registered trademark (The National Notary Association) is an important factor in determining infringement.\n\nIn that case of a descriptive mark that does not initially qualify for trademark registration, at some time in the future, the descriptive mark may gain registration through secondary meaning once consumers have come to associate goods or services with mark.\n\nAfter a mark becomes registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), secondary meaning IS NOT a consideration whatsoever.\n\nThe National Notary Association is a registered trademark, therefore it is not advisable that you ignore the Cease & Desist (C&D) letter. I will be glad to review the C&D letter and explain any options that you may have. Please feel free to contact my office to assist you with this Intellectual Property matter.\n\nTHE COMMENTS CONTAINED HEREIN ARE FOR GENERAL INFORMATIONAL USE ONLY- NOT LEGAL OPINION. NO ATTORNEY/CLIENT RELATIONSHIP HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED.\n
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