I just started a company a few months ago and I'm in the process of trying to trademark my name before I start rolling out product.
Upon searching for other businesses in my field of work with similar business names, I stumbled across a company in germany who produces the same product and has a similar business name. They started their company only a few months before me and as far as I can tell, their name isn't trademarked. An example would be "Big Idea" (my name) "Big Idea Designs" (their name). Can I move forward with my desired business name without that company suing me or forcing me to change my company's name?
Thank you for your time,
1 Answer from Attorneys
That's a great question, and it comes up a lot. Some additional information would be helpful in giving a more specific answer, but generally a foreign company that is not in business in the US and does not have its mark registered (or an application pending) with the U.S. Trademark Office should not impact your initial registration process. However, if that company decided to expand into the U.S., it is possible that they would have a priority claim over your mark and you may run into a legal issue further down the road.
Since you are just getting started with branding your business, you could take this opportunity to rebrand now to avoid future threats of litigation. This will also give you a stronger brand, rather than one that consumers could confuse for the other mark. If you prefer to take the risk and the foreign company does become problematic down the road, you could have an IP attorney reach out to the company directly to discuss various solutions. Whichever option you prefer, you should consult with an experienced trademark attorney who can assess your specific situation, look into the other company's mark, and determine how to avoid any future problems for your company.
Best of luck!