I have a company telling me that they want me to stop using my business name because it is close toits name, what are my legal rights?

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I have a company telling me that they want me to stop using my business name because it is close toits name, what are my legal rights?

I have the business name “My Memory Portraits” and a company called Memory Portraits is threatening to sue me because I’m using my business name which is a registered business name in a different state then theirs. What are my options?

Asked on October 4, 2010 under Business Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You might not have any effective options (other than as below). If "Memory Portraits" is a trademark or service mark of theirs--and note: even if they haven't registered it as a trademark, it possibly just by dint of use and asserting as a trademark that they have "common law" trademark in it--and especially if your business or products or services is any way similar to theirs, you may be committing trademark infringement and/or unfair competion. (This is especially so if you and they are selling to similar customers, which of course is very easy to do with non-local Internet marketing and sales.)

If you predated them, you have grounds for challenging their ownership of any name or mark; if that's the case, you might consult with an intellectual property attorney to see what recourse you might have. However, if they were established before you, and if the conditions stated above also apply, they may be able to stop you from using that name.


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