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samgj

Identical Company Names

11 posts in this topic

I recently found out my company has a name almost the same as another. The other company is older but also not well known like mine. They also are based out of a different US state, mine has Media at the end, and we are in different fields. Is this legal, or should we change our name?

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It is legal for two companies in different fields to have similar names.  The test is whether someone encountering a product made by one company would be confused and think it was made by the other company.  You're going to have to ask an attorney's advice.

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You're going to have to ask an attorney's advice.

If you do end up asking an attorney (and I agree you should), please post back his advice. I'm very curious.

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I thought the test was "idiot in a hurry" or at least described as such.  

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You're going to have to ask an attorney's advice.

If you do end up asking an attorney (and I agree you should), please post back his advice. I'm very curious.

 

 

A Lawyer's advice is always specific and context-sensitive. What a lawyer says about Samgj's case shouldn't be taken as any more illuminating for you or for others than the general notion that Tom Sloper's already shared. In fact, its probably more dangerous to actually rely upon lawyer's specific advice to someone else as relevant to you, than it is to consider non-specific legal understandings like Tom's, and using your best judgement as to when to consult your own lawyer.

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Is this legal, or should we change our name?

 

The questions are not "or".  They are "and".

 

These are the two important questions.

 

 

 

 

 

The first question is about legality.

 

Is this legal?

 

Many companies have the same name.  It happens all the time.  It can get complex when they are in different fields, when they are in different geographic locations, when they have different degrees of popularity. Business names are very closely related to trademark law, which can get extremely complex. It is perfectly legal for two companies to have similar names.  It gets murky because the two businesses may be legally forbidden to expand into each other's markets.

 

It absolutely can be legal.

 

 

 

The second question is about actions that can be taken.  

 

Even if the names are perfectly legal, you can still consider changing your company name.

 

If your name is generic enough that other businesses are already using the same name, don't you want your company to have a unique name? Also, do you really want to risk the cost and effort of a lawsuit in the event that the other company decides to sue you?  Conversely, when you decide to grow your business are you prepared to potentially force them to change their name (or pay them lots of money) when the eventual trademark dispute comes up?  While your business is small the cost to change your name is minimal; when your business is large the cost will become much greater.  Names acquire value, so the sooner you decide the better off you will be.

 

If you are the newcomer or if your business is substantially smaller, you might want to take the opportunity to rename your business simply because it is better for your business to be unique.

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Generally speaking, if you are in very different industries, you don't need to worry as much.  However, it does not look like you're in very different industries: you are a game company, and they are a game engine company.

Also, I couldn't help but notice that your company name's ".com" suffix is available.  I'd jump on that if I were you ;)...

 

That all said, a very enlightening case history is Apple Corps vs Apple Computer.  

Apple Corps (the Beatles Record label) sued Apple Computer over the name "Apple".  They settled, and Apple agreed to stay out of the music business.... 

i'll let you figure the rest out :)

 

The wiki page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Corps_v_Apple_Computer) has a decent (though somewhat biased) account..

 

 

 

Moral is: you never know...

p.s. your "UNINCORPORATED" graphic at the top of your page is quite hard to read... just a friendly suggestion..

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One additional thing-- You may want to do a quick check with an attorney to see if "Unincorporated Media" is a name that could ever become a corporation or LLC, etc.

There may be a rules against misleading company names, and "Unincorporated Media, INC" may not be allowed...

 

I was in a band once and we thought it would be clever to call ourselves "No Cover".  Turns out it was a terrible idea!   People were frustrated by having to pay a door charge when the sign clearly said "Tonight: No Cover" :P

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I'm not a lawyer, but I'd say: in case of doubt, change your company's name. Better to be as safe as possible. It's not like you can't avoid having this issue for starters.

Edited by Sik_the_hedgehog
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But I would say before you change or get rid of your company name, just do a research and see whether the other one has an old registration. If your one is older than the other which means you are in safer side.
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However, it does not look like you're in very different industries: you are a game company, and they are a game engine company.

Acctually they make cloaths. We make games and are working on an engine.

 

 

p.s. your "UNINCORPORATED" graphic at the top of your page is quite hard to read... just a friendly suggestion..

This is one of the major critisizums of our logo. I'm working on a version that has the bars closer together.

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If they make clothes and you make videogames, then you're probably fine.

As an example, there is a giant jewelry company called Pandora (pandora.net, founded 1982).  And of course, Pandora is also a giant music streaming company (pandora.com, founded 2007)

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