Legal Question in Business Law in Florida

Dispute on the Firm Name

My friend runs a small store as a single ownership in west palm beach florida with name FAB-INDIA.

She recently received a letter from a lawyer based in USA asking her to change her business name to something else. The reason he states is that there is an existing firm by name FABINDIA which is doing business from 1965 and this name is a trademark so she is no longer allowed to keep this name. He has given a time period of 3 months to change the name or else have threathen to take her to the court if not done so. She is a small business owner and has spent a couple of dollars for the neon sign board and it is a hassle for her to change the name everywhere else. I checked the trademark record for FABINDIA and saw that this name is trademark last year and the trademark record states that it was first used in 1965.

Can my friend keep the name FAB-INDIA as she has hypen(-)in between the two words and the registered name is FABINDIA as one word?

Please suggests what is the right path here? Can the other company take her to the court if she does not do as suggested in the letter. She never had any problem registering the firm name in the state of the Florida when she first started her business 10 years back. Thank you in advance.

Asked on 3/16/08, 10:27 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Euribiades Cerrud II The PCB Firm, P.A.

Re: Dispute on the Firm Name

You should contact an IP lawyer. This seems to be a claim for either dilution or just plain trademark infringement. The real problem concerns three aspects of the law - whether or not FABINDIA was actually used in the commerce (especially in Florida) - whether or not they are competitors - and whether or not her used of the name FAB-INDIA creates confusion as to the origin (source) of the goods being placed into the market. To answer these questions, it may be necessary that you conduct polls and a thorough investigation of the business practices of the claimant. In the end, the questions to ask is how much is the mark worth to you? (or claimant - for that matter).

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Answered on 3/17/08, 11:43 am
Stuart M. Address Law Offices of Stuart M. Address, P.A.

Re: Dispute on the Firm Name

This is more complicated than Law Guru response permits. You may be able to keep the name if the other company does not do business in this geographic area. If it does, it is the senior holder to the mark and the hyphen probably won't get you any relief. If you would like to discuss this further, please contact my office.

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Answered on 3/17/08, 2:50 pm

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