Do I need a trademark to get someone to stop using my company’s name in their advertising?

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Do I need a trademark to get someone to stop using my company’s name in their advertising?

We named the company 6 years ago; we purchased the domain name but have no trademark.

Asked on June 17, 2015 under Business Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Without a trademark, another company cannot represent, imply, state, or suggest that they are you or are affiliated with you--that is, they cannot do anything that would confuse customers as to the source of goods or services. However, as long as they do not do that, they could use the company's name, so they could say, "We sell the same products as John Doe Inc.--for less!" or even without your permission advertise that they "resell John Doe Inc. products." To stop them from making any use of your name, you would have to trademark it. And while you can trademark without registering the mark (e.g. by using the "TM" symbol), trademark is stronger if registered; therefore, to have the most control over the name (since trademark gives the trademark holder the right to control any/all use of the mark), you are advised to register your trademark. You can do this yourself--the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has useful online tools at its website (just Google "PTO" and it will come up)--but if the name is worth something to you, you are advised to retain an intellectual property attorney to help you.


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