Legal Question in Business Law in Massachusetts

I am soon to be a beauty school graduate and will then be working in a salon doing hair and makeup. I would like to know if I can have business cards made for my makeup services and giving it a name which just happens to be another company's name; for example, Color Me Beautiful. My intention is not to promote that company or to be fraudulent in any way; I just happen to like the name and it matches the makeup service that I'll be giving. Please advise.

Asked on 8/14/10, 7:39 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

Lawrence Graves Coolidge & Graves PLLC

This is really a trademark law issue, so let's approach it that way. If the name that you are intending to use is already in use by another person/company, then that user has priority or "seniority" over you. Now, if the other user's category has nothing to do with yours, then your use would not be confusing to a reasonable consumer and thus would not constitute an infringing use under state or federal trademark law (e.g., if you called your business Mama Leone's like the Boston restaurant). Stay clear of "famous or well-known" marks as they are entitled to broader protection (e.g., IBM, Dell, Ford). And, if you use anything in a related industry, you would be getting into trouble -- re-branding your new business is hardly the way you want to spend your time and money. Best wishes,


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Answered on 8/20/10, 3:32 am
Kevin B. Murphy Franchise Foundations, APC

The other attorney is right on point. If the name you want to use on your business card is a trademark or service mark owned by someone else, your use would be trademark infringement without the other party's consent. Consult with an attorney in your area for specifics.

Kevin B. Murphy, B.S., M.B.A., J.D. - Mr. Franchise

Franchise Attorney

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Answered on 8/20/10, 6:41 am

The short answer is no. First it may violate an existing trademark and if the company is registered to do business in the same state, you will violate a provision of the corporate business act.

You could use a derivative statement that does not violate the other company's trademark.

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Answered on 8/20/10, 7:11 am

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