How can I make sure my business name does not break any trademark laws?

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How can I make sure my business name does not break any trademark laws?

I have recently taken out a DBA in TX. This past Friday I was contacted by a business owner in MIsaying that she owns the trademark for my chosen business name. I want to be able to change the name just enough to where I am not breaking any laws. My DBA is “Footprints Photography”. Her trademark is for “Footprints” as pertaining to photography. Am I able to change mine to “Foot Prints Photography” or “Footprint Photography”? I don’t know anything about trademark laws and any help would be greatly appreciated.

Asked on August 15, 2011 Texas

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you are a photographer, you would want to protect a "service mark" since you are providing services as opposed to a "trademark" which pertains to the providing of a product.

One way to ascertain whether or not a name that you want to use for your business is unique and not used by anyone else is to contact the Texas' secretary of state's trademark and service mark division to make an application for a certain name you wish to use. Based upon the application, the Texas secretary of state will either approve the name or not. You have to pay a fee for the use and re-apply for the use so many years so as to not lose the name.

There is also federal registration of a name through the "Lanham Act" through the United States' patent and trademark office. The process is pretty much the same at the state level, but a successful registration of a name at the federal level allows exclusive use of the name within all of our states and territories.

You should consult with a trademark attorney further about your inquiry.

Good luck.

 


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