If I am starting a tutoring business, is it illegal for me to call my business after the name of my school?

UPDATED: Jul 30, 2013

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If I am starting a tutoring business, is it illegal for me to call my business after the name of my school?

I am a student at a prestigious university and I am hiring students to be the “tutors”. I have named by business after the name of the school, because this is the place where I am recruiting my employee’s. For example, if it were Harvard, it would be called “Harvard Tutors”. Also, is it illegal for me to be hiring students without teaching credentials, to tutor other kids? Are there any other potential issues I may encounter?

Asked on July 30, 2013 under Business Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, you may not use the name of your school without their permission--they have the right to control their name and its use. To use their name and further imply a connection that does not exist violates their intellectual property. You can use a name, though, that is factual: in your example, if all tutors went to Harvard, you could call the business "Harvard Grad Tuturs" (if they've all graduated) or "Harvard Educated Tutors" or something similar that is factually true and does not suggest a connection with or association with the university that does not exist. Also do not use their logo or write their name using the same font they do--again, you want to use a truthful name that does not involve their intellectual property or suggest a link to the university.

You do not have to hire certified teachers to tutor; however, make sure you do not suggest that your tutors have any credentials with they lack.

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