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Photo of attorneys E. Kelly Conway, Michael E. Gehring and Stephen G. Harvey

Can another business have a similar name?

On Behalf of | Jan 20, 2024 | Business Disputes

Would you be surprised if you googled your own business name and found out that another company had the same name? Your branding is very important to you, and it may feel like they are infringing on your rights. How can they possibly use the same name – or even one that is extremely similar – that you’re using for your company?

This could be a violation of your intellectual property rights. But there are a few things to consider to determine what options you have and if those rights have actually been violated.

Will it create consumer confusion?

Intellectual property rights guard against consumer confusion. It would be unfair to you if someone else used your business name – without permission – in order to get customers who were actually seeking your company.

But there may not be consumer confusion, meaning that similar names are allowed. For example, perhaps your company and the other business are in very different geographical locations, such as in different states. Consumers aren’t likely to be confused by this, so companies in different areas can use similar names.

Additionally, the two companies may operate in much different industries. A common example of this is Delta Faucets and Delta Airlines. The names may be similar, but consumers are never going to confuse the two companies, so this is permitted.

Have your intellectual property rights been violated?

That being said, you certainly may be correct that the other business is in violation of your rights if they’re using your name and/or branding without permission. If so, carefully take the time to look into the legal options at your disposal.