Is it legal to use a former employer’s name to solicit services?

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Is it legal to use a former employer’s name to solicit services?

Assuming no non-compete clause was signed by the former employee and the list used is publicly available, would it be legal for a former employee to use a former employer’s name as a factual point (i.e. “John Smith, formerly of ABC Company,”) on solicitation materials for a service/industry that is not in competition with the former employer but in an area that may share the same clientele (i.e. a small town)?

Asked on December 16, 2011 under Business Law, Virginia

Answers:

Michael D. Siegel / Siegel & Siegel, P.C.

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In addition to the concerns of the other poster, there could be an allegation that you were tortiously interfering in the former employers business.  On the whole, I would not recommend doing it.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It would be legal if--

1) Used, as stated, purely as a factual description of experience (the same as you can list former employers on a resume or CV);

2) You do not imply any relationship, endorsement, etc. that does not exist;

3) You do not use the company's logo, trade marks, service marks, or other intellectual property of the company, but only factually list their name.

In short, it's easy to get in trouble while doing this, if doing it wrong, so the former employee should consider whether it's worthwhile. After all, if the former employer feels there is some infringement or misrepresenation, even if there is not, they may try to sue, which would force the former employer to spend money and time defending him- or herself.


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