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ficitious business name confusion

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by JohnyNCa, Oct 16, 2002.

  1. JohnyNCa

    JohnyNCa LawnSite Member
    Posts: 56

    Hey everyone
    im a bit confused and want to see if anyone has any advise on what to do on a predicament. I was looking at the new local yellow pages book that just came out yesterday and was scrolling throught the gardening section and boom saw my business name listed but it had two other guys as the partners! :eek: Well i didnt place my listing in the yellow pages since i didnt make the deadline but it seems like theres someone else using my fictious business name! Well i made a few calls to the city clerk office where i registered my name and only my name shows up as the owner. Anyway to make a long story short they said i need to write to these guys and let them know that they cant use my name, blah, blah...but in the meantime they have their listing in the yellow pages under my name and now im confused as to what im gonna do? by the way they also have a website under my name as well! so now i cant register that name online. So is their any legal action i can take or better yet what would u do? Thanks
  2. bubble boy

    bubble boy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,020

    this all depends on the laws where you are.

    here, to register a name you do an exact search-so joe's landscaping and joe's property care would not be "flagged". are the two names IDENTICAL?

    to do a proper ontario name search you have to do some digging at the gov. offices. i would say if the clerk has your name down on record, you have the advantage.

    what's the name??? is it very common?

    call them, be firm but friendly. let them know the situation, and ask if they registered the name anywhere besides the web. let them know it's their prob too.

    And as for the internet, you can get around that. websites today are so common often companies get creative in their .com

    but this needs to be addressed, and a lawyer might be in order if they are unco-operative. be prepared, good luck
  3. MacLawnCo

    MacLawnCo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,847

    I would say that you are in a very sticky situation. I would say that you definately need to get a lawyer in on this. The first problem that i can see is that customers that remember your name but not your number will get in the new book and call them and not you. I would think that you have potential to loose alot of business because of this. Im sure that there are also some other issues too.

    I would definately call him but I would let it be know that they are in deep crap and that they are going to be help responsible for their irresponsible business action. I would make this tone very serious and almost irritated.
  4. LawnLad

    LawnLad LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 738

    In Ohio when you incorporate you have to have a unique name. But that does not prevent someone from "doing business as" and using your name or something similar.

    Therefore, you can register with the State of Ohio for a nominal fee. Registering your name makes it just a bit more protected.

    For the ultimate protection you'd want register with the feds. Federally you can't register your name unless you're doing interstate business - so someone from out of state could come into your state with your name and you can't do much about it. And if they registered federally - you'd have a tough local fight on your hands in court as to has the rights locally to using that name.

    I'm not sure how getting a trademark for your logo would work with repect to the actual name of your company. It may or may not matter - and may or may not be available if you're not doing interstate business. I'm not sure.

    I also don't know if the internet would allow you to get through the loophole of interstate business. If you could sell packets of vegetable seeds over the internet (light - easy to mail, insignificant revenue source for sake of being on the internet) then maybe you could register your business name and get the upper hand.

    I'd talk to a lawyer and find out how to handle the current situation and potential future problems.
  5. MPhillips

    MPhillips LawnSite Member
    from zone 7
    Posts: 94

    You have a lot of exposure here...I think you need reliable advise in determining a quick and effective solution. Sounds like you don't have an attorney on retainer, but it would probably be good to get one specializing in this type of work, if you need to drop a retainer fee consider the whole firm for the range of services you may need down the road. Here's a couple sites that may help with advice too...www.nolo.com and www.score.org
  6. Darb

    Darb LawnSite Member
    Posts: 182

    There has been a lot of good ideas posted here. I would get a lawyer FIRST. I would not write the other company until you talk to a lawyer as they might just take the letter to a lawyer and get the paper work done to keep the name and force you to change your company name.
    Let us know what happens. And be sure to tell us what you did as we all could find ourselves in this position.
  7. soccer coach

    soccer coach LawnSite Member
    from midwest
    Posts: 104

    :( In MO. the Sec. of State handles registration of DBA's but doesn't keep someone from using your name. In MO you could have 200 Joe's Mowing Service and they could all be registered. The only protection is for the Inc. companies. We ran into this in the KC area last year. We kept getting bills from a garden center for a company that had the same name. The guy had horrible credit and it followed us for awhile. My advice is just change your name if you haven't spent alot on marketing it. We tried to get the other co to change names and our legal council told us it would not be cheap to get it done. Good luck.:angel:

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