Table of Contents
Written by : Art Fairly
Current : 3390
Write a comment
Write a comment
hello i'm tami shambati houston-based attorney and host of ask timmy live and today's question of the day is can i trademark a name that someone else is already using now this is a question i get asked all the time and it's a great question so here's the answer it depends with a strong leaning towards the side of no but it depends and let me unpack that a little bit more why am i saying it depends well let's say you want to use a name that someone else is using but they are not in the same lane as you perfect example we have delta airlines and we have delta faucets delta airlines is operating all the way over here delta faucets all the way over here is it is it likely that someone is going to mix up the two companies do you think that someone who is going who is looking for airlines right booking a flight is going to accidentally try and book a flight with the faucet company no there's not a likelihood of confusion there right and so in such instances where the name that you're trying to use is a name that's being used but in a different industry with different goods and services then yeah maybe if however you're trying to copy the name or do something similar use the name of product or service that somebody is already using even if they haven't already registered it but you're in that same lane you know you're wrong we don't have to talk about like there's a legal side to this but you already know what you're trying to do right um and so we're going to say that that's a no and the law is going to agree and say that's a no because they do not want a likelihood of confusion if you're trying to operate in this area where somebody else has already established their roots why are you trying to do that it's not nice um and the law reflects that they want to look at first on use so when they're looking at who has stronger rights to a name surprisingly it is not the first person to register the name it's the first person to use the name and registration service has proof of your use it's not the only form of proof that can be proffered or provided but it is strong proof and it also provides notice to the rest of the world that hey this is my lane i own this area okay so don't come and play over here right so that is what essentially happens and that's where you get that strong no if it's a similar good similar service then you don't want to do that but if you're in two different areas so we already gave the example of the delta there's also this golfing company called my girl so they're talking about the golf clubs and so they're called my girl golf clubs i don't know why but they've registered a mark when it comes to golf clubs there's another mark when it comes to guess what dolls and clothing and apparel for the dolls that's called my girl they can operate and coexist because they're operating in two different markets they're operating in two different channels they're operating with two different products and services they're not trying to confuse each other they're not trying to steal each other's business they're doing their own thing right and so that's what i want to encourage you to do as well if you see that someone has something that is similar to the name that you want to use or exactly the same it's probably better that you go back to the drawing board and even as a business owner if there is something that is so similar to yours like a lot of times i have people who come to me and they say that oh it's different from mine because mine i have two e's and they have one e or you know let's say they're saying um miss miss stacy's and they're like oh miss stacy with a y and this one is miss stacy with an i well do you want your customers to have to think that hard has to which which company they're trying to deal with from a marketing perspective from a branding perspective that's not what you want because that could cause them to accidentally give the other miss stacey with the y the money that they intended to give you miss stacy with an eye the example i gave is very interesting but essentially that's what you should keep in mind um if you're operating in two different product areas then it might be okay but i also want to caution you when you're deciding what your brand is going to be and the marks you're going to use think about not only what you're currently selling the goods and services that you're using now but the areas where you might as eventually expand into because that can cause you trouble in the future if you expand into an area where there's a mark that already is in use perfect example is apple when apple started there was apple computers that they created but there was also apple music now they thought at the time that yo we're in two different lanes i'm not crossing into your lane we're good right music computers or music computers well what happened over time apple decided the great idea of itunes and and ipods and all of this music related material goods and services that they started to provide and guess what apple music that was saying hey we don't want you to play in our playground when they started was like now you really are making a mistake and guess what apple music got paid a lovely sum of money by apple computers because they were in the right and apple computers was in the wrong so you want to keep that in mind when you're thinking about your name it's like okay right now i'm just selling this but i think i'm gonna sell this this this and this as well let me make sure that those areas i have some type of i'm coming up with some type of strategy to make sure that nobody else is using it and that area remains um protected for me that was a lot i hope it was helpful if it was go ahead and like this video share this video subscribe to this channel and then follow me on social media you can find me at tos legal you can find me on instagram twitter facebook and you can visit my website wwe and let me know if you have any other questions drop a comment below love hearing from you and can't wait to talk to you soon have a great great great week bye bye
Thanks for your comment Nannie Meyerhoff, have a nice day.
- Art Fairly, Staff Member
great question from Quora if my brand is well-established but I didn't trademark the name can someone else trademark it and then file lawsuit on me even after I've been using the name for years i'm andre mink of the father of trademark factory and here's my answer to this question why oh my what a question so you have a well-established brand but you didn't trade market why not thirsty why not why the hell not why would you not protect a well-established brand something that can become your most valuable asset of your entire business why would you not protect it it's beyond me but okay let's go with your scenario you've got a well-established business and you didn't trademark the name can't someone else trademark it and then sue you for trademark infringement yes yes they can and here's why the trademarks office doesn't care about unregistered trademarks they don't care how long you've been using this mark without trademark Ian they don't care how well-established your brand is all they care about are trademarks that have been applied for or registered within their system that's the only thing they look at so unless you've got a famous brand that for some reason isn't trademarked which is almost something that never happens but we're talking about massive brands like Microsoft you know or say this type of brands big brands and if you're not one of them then doesn't apply to you because it's called famous trademarks they have special treatment but Trevor's office does not care about trademarks outside of their system so anybody else could jump in and trademark your brand and they would have a trademark registration certificate and when they do have one yes they can file a lawsuit against you and if you don't respond to that lawsuit they will win no matter how long no matter all well established you are with your business and with your brand because anybody can sue anybody for anything doesn't mean they're gonna win but what it does mean is if somebody Sue's you you have to defend it you have to defend it you have to spend money you have to toss spend time you have to spend your emotions you have to spend your energy fighting this lawsuit because if you don't a default judgment is gonna be entered against you and you're gonna lose even if you're right and they're wrong so but let's say you've got the budget to defend the case then yes probably you'll win if you can prove that you were there with us brand in the same industry long before they trademark theirs if you are in the country that respects unregistered trademarks as common law trademarks for example you ask for Canada then you would in theory be able to win but it's gonna cost you hundreds of times more then it would have cost you to just go ahead and trademark the damn thing a good example that I have is so there was a case in Canada called woodpecker flooring so there was this flooring company in Richmond it's near Vancouver and they were in business for 20 years well established never bothered to trade on their name so a competitor across the street we have a whole street there in Richmond where as near idea we're all of those you know home declarations and home construction companies are right they sell all sorts of stuff and there's a lot of them across the street so there's their competitor across the street goes ahead and trademarks woodpecker flooring and trademarks office doesn't care about the twenty year old company because they haven't bothered to trade wonder the name so they register that trademark and then the new company finds nothing better to do than to file a lawsuit against the old company I'd say Dada Dada Dada we all this trademark you should stop using this brand because it's now ours and the old company was having none of it they defended the case they won the new company appealed so the old company won that as well so on by the book by the book the old company is okay right they they got they they won the Webster they they want lawsuit here's the problem with that well actually two problems problem number one the old company had to spend a lot of money well into six figures to defend the case to not be found infringing the rights of the new company and second even more important the new company still owns that mark they just can't enforce it against the company it was there first but the old company can't expand anymore geographically so they can't open woodpecker flooring let's say you know in Theriot or they can't or Alberta or any other province in Canada because trademarks are federal so the only exception to the enforceability of that new trademark is Vancouver and Richmond right this close area next to that store because this is where the old company still has what's called common law rights to the name but that's it that's it if they have not become known under that name in a certain part of the country when somebody else trademarks the same brand you're out of luck now they own it so if your brand is well established but you didn't trademark the name that's the big mistake that's really where the question should stop and the real question is why haven't you because if you're if you're hoping that nobody's gonna steal your brand if you're hoping that nobody's going to try to hijack it and then maybe get some money from you you're sorely mistaken the way I always say is before your business becomes truly successful somebody will trademark your brand it could be you or it could be somebody else why wouldn't it be you why would you create a massive problem for your business the problem that can be easily and inexpensively solved preemptively today so don't wait trademark your brand and don't worry about somebody else stealing it from you it's not really that expensive in fact for a business that's a real business it's not a hobby it's not expensive at all now I hope this answers your question make sure you like this video comment below and subscribe right we are working on these videos and the only way for us to know if you like them is by seeing your engagement just comments likes and subscribes so if you haven't yet subscribe now get notified whenever the next video goes live and I'll take it from there and I'll see you in the next video
Thanks Maurita your participation is very much appreciated
- Art Fairly
About the author
I've studied comparative sociology at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in San Antonio and I am an expert in soil mechanics. I usually feel quixotic. My previous job was lathe operator I held this position for 14 years, I love talking about barbershop music and jumping. Huge fan of Tucker Carlson I practice tai chi and collect breweriana.
Try Not to laugh !
Joke resides here...