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

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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 etsy.com 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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 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.


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