Can I be forced to change mydomain namebecause it is slightly similar to someone elses?

UPDATED: Jan 12, 2011

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Can I be forced to change mydomain namebecause it is slightly similar to someone elses?

I sell hairbows and tutus on and through my facebook. I was contacted by a woman claiming that I stole her name. It is similar but not the same and I have not infringed on any of her domain names. Should I change my name or stick to my name? Also, she has been harassing my friends on facebook before I even could reply to her request to change my name. She says that she has the namw registered in the US. when she lived in CA, but she now lives in another country. What should I do?

Asked on January 12, 2011 under Business Law, Minnesota


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

For a full consideration of the issues  involved, you need to speak with an intellectual property attorney who can evaluate the details. The short answer is, if she was actually and provably using the name in commerce before you, and/or had registered it as a trademark or service mark, then you may have to change your businesses name if it is indeed confusingly similar. Whether it's under trademark law or unfair competition law (e.g. the Lanham Act), the first to use or register a name in commerce or business can generally protect that name from infringement by others. Whether or not your name is in fact confusiningly similar is something an attorney can help you understand. Good luck.

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 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.

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