• July 2018
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Is it ok to use a similar name in the same industry/business?

Sadly the answer to your question is most likely “no,” although you should still speak to an attorney regarding your situation. Trademark law is partially in place to prevent the confusion of customers about products or services, or about the source of those products or services. Trademarks can be rejected for having a similar name to an already-existing trademark, but a new registration may also fail for also sounding alike, looking similar or creating “the same commercial impression in the consuming public’s mind.”

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) uses a four-factor test when it comes to analyzing the likelihood of confusion:

  1. Whether the two businesses are in the same industry. If the two similar marks are for different products in different industries, there’s not a high chance of confusion. But if the businesses are in the same industry and sound the same, as they do here, there is a possibility that a user will get confused and use the wrong service.
  2. Whether the two businesses operate in the same geographical market. This gets more complicated when the business is a website that works nationwide.
  3. Which business was using the mark first. If you came up with the idea first and were using it, you could perhaps prove that your business is the one being infringed upon. However, if you are creating a business name specifically because it sounds like another business’s name, you will run into an issue.
  4. Which business registered the mark first. If you started using the name first, but the other business registered it first, then you still have the right to use the name. However, you may not even be able to register it, if it is substantially similar to the other company’s mark.

Hope that provides some insight for you! If you need more advice on this topic, feel free to visit LawTrades where we have trademark attorneys on-demand. We offer free price quotes and a 100% money-back guarantee. Good luck w/ the site!

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