What doI do if Irecently started a website that is similar to someone else’s but didn’t know it at the time?

I recently started a website without checking to see if there are any similar names associated with it. Afterwards I told my mother to check it out and she did a search finding a similar site as mine. Our logos are even kinda similar. I am not sure that theirs is copyrighted but should I copyright mine or should Ijust shut down the site? I’m very confused.

Asked on March 11, 2012 under Business Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Copyright and trademark do not need to be registered officially to exist (though registration gives the owner more power against infringers), and they come into being when original content is created (copyright) or when a mark, logo, tradedress, etc. starts being used in commerce. (I'm oversimplifying somewhat.) Therefore, if you are using a similar look and logo to another site, and that site was there before you, there is a reasonable chance you are infringing or violating their intellectual property. If the other site is litiguous, you could find yourself embroiled in litigation. If you don't have much invested yet in the designs, logo, etc. you're using, it may be most practical to stop using them, come  up with new designs, and do a very thorough search before utilizing them.

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