If I registered my DBA but have now found a website for a company with a similar name in Canada, will I have to change my name?

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If I registered my DBA but have now found a website for a company with a similar name in Canada, will I have to change my name?

How do I go about protecting myself and the name of my company?

Asked on June 13, 2015 under Business Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) Registration is by jurisdication, so if you are in California, a business registered in Canada does not affect your ability to register that name.

2) In terms of trademark (also trade name, service mark, etc.), unfair competition, and your ability to market/advertise under that name, the issue is whether there is any "likelihood of confusion" for potential customers. If the other company sells to a different market (e.g. a different geographic market) and/or sells/provides different products or services, there is little or no chance of customer confusion and so no trademark, etc. violations. Only if they sell to the same market, and are selling similar products or services, might there be a problem and might you have to consider a name change, if they were there first. (Note: you can still be registered under your name, but would have a different name for the product and/or for marketing.)

3) To protect yourself and your company and products generally, you want to register your own trademarks. Best would be to have an intellectual property attorney help you; but if you want to do it yourself or cannot afford an attorney, you can find helpful tools and instructions at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) website.


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