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Snapper Jack
03-18-2012, 11:27 AM
About a year ago I came up with Smokey Mountain Lawn care for my company name and before doing so I searched for a year to see if any other company existed using the same name and nothing turned up,I mean I checked the yellow pages, checked yellow book business registry for all counties in Western, NC and nothing turned up until today when I for no apparent reason just glanced on Craig List to find a company in Arden,NC using the exact name :mad:

I'm at a lost here, I was so excited about getting my new company name circulated in my region. First step of action I'm taking is going to the county courthouse to see if this guy has even registered in the company registry for the county,if not what would you guys suggest the next step be,as I surely could use some sound advice here.

I had every attention of getting my company name on the county registry by the end of this week,should of never postponed it this long.

White Gardens
03-18-2012, 11:47 AM
Getting registered with the county should have been your first move.

If the other guy hasn't registered it, then you have the right to it if you can snag it.

Until then, you have no legal leg to stand on.

....

djagusch
03-18-2012, 01:41 PM
Also the Secertary of State (SOS) is where you should check and registar also.

JimLewis
03-18-2012, 09:51 PM
That really sucks. I would never want to have to work in an area where someone else is using the same name, or one that is very similar. You should always protect your company name. It's the main thing that sets you apart from the rest. Do you want your reputation linked to that guy's work?

Either figure out a way to secure the name for you whole region or change the name.

In my town, a good friend of mine owns a company called "Preferred Landscape Services." Well, unfortunately for him, there are 2 other companies with almost the same exact name in the Portland area. Which sucks. Because how do you make yourself unique and stand out when there are another few companies in the area using the same name?

Do whatever you gotta do. But don't go on using the same name as that other guy. Either he needs to change his name or you do. Register the name if you can (and every similar name) and then if you have to - get your attorney to send him a letter stating that the name is already taken and they will be subject to a lawsuit if they don't change it. Either that, or you change it. But don't keep operating with the same name someone else has.

larryinalabama
03-18-2012, 10:11 PM
If your SOLO promote your personal name, over the name of your business. If your large you will have have to figure out something..

K&L Landscaping
03-19-2012, 06:26 AM
Not trying to be a azz but you should've done things the professional way to begin with. Too many guys just hook up a mowing trailer and think they are all set. This area is so saturated with "landscapers" that don't have a clue it's ridiculous.

Just be ready to pay taxes on everything you have that's business related when you do register with the county.

clydebusa
03-19-2012, 08:30 AM
Not trying to be a azz but you should've done things the professional way to begin with. Too many guys just hook up a mowing trailer and think they are all set. This area is so saturated with "landscapers" that don't have a clue it's ridiculous.

Just be ready to pay taxes on everything you have that's business related when you do register with the county.

This is true, so this day forward don't hesitate and get things done! You can always use your name and do a slogun like "we serve the smokey mountains". Good luck.

wbw
03-19-2012, 10:49 AM
About a year ago I came up with Smokey Mountain Lawn care for my company name and before doing so I searched for a year to see if any other company existed using the same name and nothing turned up,I mean I checked the yellow pages, checked yellow book business registry for all counties in Western, NC and nothing turned up until today when I for no apparent reason just glanced on Craig List to find a company in Arden,NC using the exact name :mad:

I'm at a lost here, I was so excited about getting my new company name circulated in my region. First step of action I'm taking is going to the county courthouse to see if this guy has even registered in the company registry for the county,if not what would you guys suggest the next step be,as I surely could use some sound advice here.

I had every attention of getting my company name on the county registry by the end of this week,should of never postponed it this long.

The simple fact of the matter is that you need an unintellectual property lawyer.

You can try it without one.

Have you been openly using this name?

If yes, for how long?

Snapper Jack
03-20-2012, 05:45 PM
I want to thank every who's responded and as an up date, this gentleman has been in business since 1995 operating off the county registry book and given his years operating with this name off the books, I emailed him with an generous attitude with every effort of keeping this matter civil and I have given him as of this Thursday as a dead line to get his ducks in order or come Friday morning I'll be legally registering the name Smokey Mountain Lawn Care with county registry office and that he'll be subject to a lawsuit he if he continues to use my registered name but I will say this ,Jim Lewis brings up a lot of concerning details for a owner to ponder on.

Fvstringpicker
03-21-2012, 12:01 AM
I'm not up to speed on the North Carolina Code but bear in mind that registering your business name is not the same as obtaining a trademark that provides you with rights about how your business name may be used. If I was representing the defendant in your lawsuit, I would argue, among other things, that you registered your business name (Smokey Mountain Lawn Care) , knowing that your competitor had used the name since 1995. He may be violating NC Statute 66-68 by not registering an assumed name, but that may not give you a standing to sue if he continues to use the name. I recommend that you at least talk to an attorney licensed to practice in your state.

Snapper Jack
03-22-2012, 09:38 AM
I'm not up to speed on the North Carolina Code but bear in mind that registering your business name is not the same as obtaining a trademark that provides you with rights about how your business name may be used. If I was representing the defendant in your lawsuit, I would argue, among other things, that you registered your business name (Smokey Mountain Lawn Care) , knowing that your competitor had used the name since 1995. He may be violating NC Statute 66-68 by not registering an assumed name, but that may not give you a standing to sue if he continues to use the name. I recommend that you at least talk to an attorney licensed to practice in your state.
I arranged two Attorney meetings yesterday and both did a through cooperate and trademark search for Smokey Mountain Lawn Care and all efforts turned up negative for such a company to exist in the State of North Carolina. Both attorneys stated that this company ethically has no legal grounds to stand on in court due to not legally registering at the registry office of Buncombe county to somewhat protect it's name. What burns me the most is there's absolute no documented evidence of this company's existence with exception of Craigslist and internet,basically working under the radar to avoid paying taxes and what not.
I have no shame for what "I Might Do" tomorrow morning as I'm in my legal right to register my company as is to protect it cuz the slot is open and I gave this the company my email to work something out and have received no correspondence from them. They've had seventeen years to become legit but have'nt,not my problem.

USAProLawnCare
03-22-2012, 09:59 AM
I think you are in the right. You practiced due diligence to try and contact the guy, and he hasn't corresponded. File the name. Its yours. And if he tries to fight it, it will be a civil issue. (at least in California).. You have nothing to worry about. Civil issues are usually resolved by looking at who is the most legitimate, and the judge will usually rule in favor of whoever has the better reputation in the matter. Obviously this guy is going to be looked at negatively for operating under the radar. (I'm not a judge but I deal with civil issues EVERYDAY in my normal job; Law Enforcement)

GMLC
03-22-2012, 10:18 AM
Why did you not register your name in the beginning? You have to register here to even be a legal business. To me it sounds like your both in the wrong for never registering the name. You better hope he doesn't beat you to it!

Fvstringpicker
03-22-2012, 02:48 PM
Sounds like you've done your homework S.J. Your attorney supports you and if he's operating like it appears, you're good. By not registering the assumed business name in NC he's in violation of state statute. I thought perhaps he at least had a business license under that name.

Snapper Jack
03-24-2012, 09:43 AM
Well after some lengthy deliberations with the wife,kids,other family members,friends and Jim Lewis post,etc,I decided not to pursue registering SMLC for obvious reasons but mostly not wanting to have to keep looking over my shoulder everywhere I go,just too many psychos walking around and too many variables of structuring SMLC for register.

So I registered Prime Cut Lawn Care and will have a logo"For that A One look " I'll need a new logo so hopefully YamahaTim will be back in business shortly

BradLewisLawnCare
07-11-2012, 05:59 PM
what would you do if the guy stole an entire section of your website and added a couple things?

http://jefflewislawncare.blogspot.com/p/odds-n-ends-jobs.html

http://bradlewislawncare.com/oddjobs.html


But forgot to take your name down?

He is in MD and I'm in NY, but come on. at least he could try.

JimLewis
07-11-2012, 07:59 PM
Well, in this particular case, I probably wouldn't worry about it. What he's done is copied your content. Which is illegal, but in this case he changed it a little and it's sort of a minor theft. There are literally hundreds of sites around the internet that have stolen a little of the content that I wrote for our website and used it on their site somewhere. I used to go after every single one of them and have them remove it. But nowadays I only go after them if they stole my photos or maybe if they stole 100% of one of my pages without changing any of the words, or if they are local. Otherwise, I just leave them alone. It's not enough to worry about and for me to waste my time with.

But in this case, I wouldn't consider it an egregious enough use of plagiarism to really consider it worth going after them.

But if you still want to go after this person anyway (or for those who have a similar problem), this is how you do it:

First, you gotta understand what is copyrighted. Any unique photo, graphic or content (written words) that you put up on your website automatically becomes your copyrighted material - whether you mention that or not on your site. The DCMA gives you that right. If you're unfamiliar, look up the DMCA and read up on it. With this knowledge, you can go after anyone who steals any of your photos, images, or content.

So if you're ready to go after them, first thing is you find out who their web hosting company is. Use one of the various "whois" websites to tell you that. Sometimes even after you find what the URL of the company who is hostng it is, it isn't really obvious which company that is. So you have to dig a little deeper. If you do a WHOIS search and find that someone's site is listed as being hosted by "http://www.hostingdomain.com", for instance, well.... that doesn't tell you a lot. So you gotta do a google search for that URL and read up on who owns that URL. It will eventually lead you to something like Google or GoDaddy or something like that.

Second step is you write the offending company a letter. You can email this letter, send it snail mail, whatever you like. But you need to notify them of the violation and politely but firmly explain to them that there are going to be consequences if they don't remove the copyrighted content. See the letter that I have attached to this post as an example. Feel free to use it, copy it, alter it, whatever. In this particular case, the guys who I send the letter to didn't head my warning. And I had their site removed a month after I sent that letter. Their website; www.studentmadelandscaping.com is still down, now 8 months later, because of this. Now, normally it doesn't go this far. Most people just apologize, blame it on their web designer, and have it removed promptly.

Third, if they remove it voluntarily within a reasonable amount of time, you just drop it and leave them alone now.

Fourth, if they don't remove it you can try to contact them again. I've been able to reach companies by phone and explain why they needed to remove it and sometimes I've even had to send registered mail to them. But maybe try to reach them another way. The WHOIS data will also usually give you their personal mailing address and maybe even personal phone number.

Fifth, a lot of websites say they are "designed by...." or "website built by...." So then you can go after the website designer and inform him of the violation and make sure he understands that if he doesn't change it there will be consequences to the company he designed the site for. I've had that work lots of times before.

Six, if you still can't get anywhere, then you contact their web hosting company, file a copyright violation complaint or DMCA complaint and that company will either suspend or totally remove that company's website.

Final step - and I've never had to go this far yet - is to go to Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. and file a DMCA complaint with them. Once they process that, they'll totally remove the offending website from all of their search results indefinitely until the site owner gets in touch with them and proves to them that the copyrighted material is gone. If you can't get found on any search engine, you might as well not have a website.

I've had to go through this process about 3 dozen times over the last few years. Mostly from people stealing our photos and using them on their site. But several other times because they just copied and pasted an entire page - or several pages - from our site. It gets old. Usually I never have to go past Step #5.

See attached letter, for anyone who's interested.

tonygreek
07-12-2012, 09:39 AM
Welcome to the world of service industry web sites. In all of my years, I've never seen the blatant stealing that goes on as much as it does in the lawn and landscape industry.

Jim just wrote the book on the topic, but I'll throw in a couple of points:

- Yes, he obviously used your content, but it's been spun enough that I wouldn't sweat it. ("Article Spinning" is the term for "repurposed" web content.) In looking through the rest of his site, he clearly took a fair chunk from you. As Jim pointed out, he's built enough around it that he's making it materially enough different that you would probably just be spinning your wheels. If he's not in my market, I wouldn't pursue it beyond a simple email. I would probably point out that his site takes liberal use of the content you wrote...you know, just in case...his developer took advantage of him.

- Where the content stealing issue does come in to play, and what would concern me most, is the search engine rank hit you could take for having duplicate content. When this happens, the weight that your site has effectively gets lessened as Google, et al, share the love between the multiple sites. On the plus side, they have a variety of components built in to their algorithms that can identify the original, such as indexing history, site relevance, etc. Just search "seo duplicate content" and you can read about it in gloriously boring detail. lol All of that said, I don't in any way think you have a duplicate content issue.

Dr.NewEarth
07-12-2012, 12:16 PM
Can I suggest that you register the domain name?

BradLewisLawnCare
07-12-2012, 05:33 PM
before i contacted him it was word for word and he even forgot to take out the "brad" part. interesting...