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

Answers:

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.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.