- Curington Law, LLC
Avoiding Trademark Infringement: What to Do if Your Trade Name is Similar to an Existing Trademark
When registering your business’s trademark, it can be difficult and even dangerous to have a trade name that is similar to an existing trademark. It could lead to a cease-and-desist letter from the other trademark owner, or even an infringement lawsuit. To ensure that you do not run afoul of existing trademarks, there are several steps you can take before registering your own trademark.
Perform a Comprehensive Search for Existing Trademarks
The first step in avoiding infringement of existing trademarks is to perform a comprehensive search for all registered trademarks related to your business’s field or industry. This requires searching both national and international databases for any existing trademarks that may conflict with the one you plan on registering. Doing this search ahead of time can save time and money in the long run by preventing any potential conflicts with other trademarks down the road.
Be Wary of Sound Alikes and Look Alikes
It is important to also watch out for “sound alikes” and “look alikes” when performing your trademark search. A sound alike is a trademark that sounds similar to yours but may be spelled differently, while a look alike may look very similar or identical but have different meanings. For example, if you are trying to register the name “Barky LLC” as your business’s trade name, but there is already an existing trademark called “Barkey Technologies Inc.,” then it might be wise not to use the name “Barky LLC.” Even though they sound similar, there could still be confusion among consumers as to which company provides which services.
Consider Using Alternative Names
If you find that your proposed trade name is too close to an existing mark, consider using alternative names instead. This will help ensure that there is no confusion between businesses and limit potential legal conflicts down the line. Additionally, make sure you check state laws for any restrictions on what types of names can be used in different states as some states have specific requirements such as not being able to include certain words like “corporation” or “incorporated” in business names without permission from the local government authority responsible for overseeing such matters.
In conclusion, it can sometimes be tricky finding the right name for your business when registering a trademark due to existing marks that sound or look similar. To avoid infringing on someone else's rights, it's important to conduct a thorough search before registering a new mark—paying special attention to look alikes and sound alikes—and also consider using alternative names if needed. Following these steps will help ensure that your business avoids any potential legal issues related to its trade name in the future.
If you have trademark related questions or would like to register your trademark, feel free to contact Curington Law, LLC at (312) 766-6671 or online.