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Written by : Hui Repke
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can you get a trademark if someone else is already using your name the answer is maybe just maybe it depends upon a few things let's talk about them first if someone else is already using your name but they don't have a registered trademark then you just might be in luck so let's say that you've been operating I don't know Sam sandwich shop and is another Sam sandwich shop in some other part of the country or the world that's been using their name longer than you if they didn't file for trademark protection first you can still race them to the trademark office file your application and possibly get your trademark rights first so just because someone else is already using your name even if it's in connection with the same business as you you could still obtain trademark protection but what if someone has already filed for trademark protection for their name before you and has trademark rights can you still get trademark protection the answer is still maybe alright I'm chock full of good news today so two companies with the same name can both have trademark rights so long as they have different types of goods or services this might surprise people because you may think that once you have a trademark you get a monopoly or exclusive rights to use your name but that's not the case you only get exclusive rights within the same classes or categories or types of goods and services that you offer so think about Delta the airline and Delta the water faucet company both are called Delta both have trademarks and they're allowed to do so because consumers aren't really confused they don't think that the same company that flies planes also helps you get water from your sink so if you have a name that you want to get protected but you're worried because you see somebody else is out there online using it or you know that they have a registered trademark you're not dead in the water yet by contacting a trademark attorney they can run what's called a trademark clearance search and be able to determine one what is your likelihood of success of getting a trademark based upon what other trademarks have been filed before you or what roadblocks might exist for you obtaining trademark protection and by having that information you and your trademark attorney can come up with a plan of how to protect your business name or logo and get all those wonderful and exclusive rights that come with trademark protection but you might be thinking Ethan what are these wonderful benefits that come with getting a trademark I'd love to tell you about them but you've already been watching this video for like two and a half minutes so instead I invite you to visit trademark Tuesday's com where you can download our free guide called how to protect and grow your business or brand with trademarks and it's going to provide you with answers to all common questions about trademarks such as what is the trademark process what are the benefits or what will happen if someone else uses my name so visit trademark Tuesdays dot-com download your free guide and get all those juicy answers to those tough trademark questions that you've been thinking about there's actually coffee in this cup okay not much less but you were thinking I was faking it uh-huh it's coffee it's cold but there's coffee
Thanks for your comment Gail Bendel, have a nice day.
- Hui Repke, Staff Member
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 thelyndontreet your participation is very much appreciated
- Hui Repke
About the author
I've studied proof theory at University of Maryland, Baltimore in Baltimore and I am an expert in programming language semantics. I usually feel okay. My previous job was crane operator I held this position for 6 years, I love talking about roller skating and origami. Huge fan of Anna Faris I practice disability sport and collect match-related items.
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