I have a company that has been in business for 10 years now, doing a google search I found that there are other companies with the same name as mine. Is there anyway that I can prevent these companies from using this name, such as copy writing it?
4 Answers from Attorneys
Buisiness names are not copyrighted. In some cases they are protected by trademarks. If you failed to protect your name 10 years ago, something you should have done then, and others have that name, you may have lost the ability to protect the name and may even risk a suit from them. See an IP lawyer now (something you should have done 10 years ago).
You may have trademark rights in the name, but it depends on many factors, including others' previous uses, your industry, your geographic location and how descriptive or generic the name is. You should speak to a local intellectual property attorney to determine your rights.
If you would like to discuss any issues further, please feel free to contact my office. The link to my contact information is below. Thank you.
The foregoing is general information only, not specific legal advice. No attorney/client relation has been created or should be implied.
In addition, to the extent anyone has rights to the name that could be protected, it may be another business and you might be the one who loses. How long have those other businesses (and others you don't know about) used the name? Unless the other businesses are somehow cost you business, or are confusing customers, you should think carefully before starting something.
Trademark rights are essentially common law rights arising from your usage. Those exist simply because you have used the name in commerce and they apply in your "market area", the scope of which depends on many factors.
In addition, you may seek to register your mark with the federal or state trademark offices, but failure to have registered it does not deprive you of your rights or cause you to forfeit them. You still have your common law usage-based rights, just because you have been continuously using the name, and you may still seek registration of your trademark.
Is there a conflict with another user? That depends whether or not there is a "likelihood of confusion" within your market area. If you have a local business and another user has a similar local business in Oregon with an unregistered mark, you will not be in conflict: there is no market overlap, by hypothesis. If you make tires and another person makes beer, there will not be a conflict because users will be unlikely to be confused due to the differences between the products: we have both Superior Beer and Superior Tires in the US.
And of course, the other user may be senior to you in his usage. That often happens and people make TM claims, only to discover (with embarrassment) that they picked on someone with superior rights.
Related Questions & Answers
In need of an attorney to revise an affiliate program contract. Asked 4/18/10, 10:54 am in United States Georgia Business Law
Do I have a legal right to sue my former employer for unpaid commission. I gave... Asked 4/14/10, 12:07 pm in United States Georgia Business Law
My husband was given stock as a bonus at his prior company twice. We paid taxes on... Asked 4/08/10, 11:06 pm in United States Georgia Business Law
I am the co-owner of a business that trains several types of working dogs. As we... Asked 4/06/10, 6:26 am in United States Georgia Business Law