Can I operate a business with the same name as another butin a different state?

UPDATED: Aug 25, 2011

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Can I operate a business with the same name as another butin a different state?

I’m opening my own business and after settling on a name, discovered the exact name exist for an on-line store based in CA (I’m in NY). We do not offer the same services. I’m into antiques and vintage items (brick and mortar store), and they sell celebrity costume jewelery (exclusively on-line). Can I potentially run into legal problems down the road if I keep my name?

Asked on August 25, 2011 New York


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Potentially you could have trouble using the very same name as that of another company albeit your business is in New York and the other business is in California for service mark infringement.

To ascertain if you might have problems, you need to try and register your service mark under the federal registration for such under the "Lanham Act" through the United States' patents and trademarks office. You most likely can go online to get the general information needed to register the name of your business should you desire. If you are successful in registering your name under the Lanham Act, you end up having exclusive use of it throughout the United States subject to the prior use of that name in a certain geographic locality such as where the online store in California is with the same name.

If you only want the use of your business name in New York, you can try and register the name in your state through your state's Secretary of State's office.

You might consider consulting with a service mark attorney.

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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