Can you get sued if your business name is similar to anothers?

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Can you get sued if your business name is similar to anothers?

I want to start my clothing line but there is another major brand out there whose name is very similar to what I came up with. Will this be an issue?

Asked on November 24, 2017 under Business Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you could possibly be sued on one or both of two potential bases:
1) If they trademarked their name--which a major brand likely did--then if your name and/or how you display it (e.g. font, graphics, etc.) is close enough to their trademark as to potentially confuse consumers (since you and they are in the same line of business), that would be a breach of trademark.
2) Even without trademark, launching a business or product whose name is confusingly similar to an existing one can be "unfair competition"--piggybacking on their reputation and marketing--and a violation of the Lanham Act.
Do yourself a favor: come up with a name not similar to that of a "major brand."


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