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Protecting a company name

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by cutman2000, Aug 10, 2012.

  1. cutman2000

    cutman2000 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 202

    If my company's name is state registered only, could someone come along later and trademark my name, then ask me to stop using it?
     
  2. easy-lift guy

    easy-lift guy LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,376

    I believe the name it's self cannot be trade marked. The font you choose should be as unique as possible. Work on branding your company name as much as possible. This will
    help discourage others from copying your name. Kinda of like Coke or Coke-Cola.
    easy-lift guy
     
  3. GreenI.A.

    GreenI.A. LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,132

    You indeed can trademark the name itself. This is what keeps people from opening a burger joint called McDonald's even if your logo is completely different. You can trademark the name with specific fonts, artisitc styling, and colors. This is what keeps a small soda bottler from calling their company Cook-Cola and using a similar artistic style as Coke using. Similarly in our industry, a company named Joe's Landscaping, might incorporate a leaf into one of the letters of "Landscaping", a registered trademark would protect him from anyone else using the same artistic styling of the leaf in "Landscaping".

    As far as the name goes, you can trademark the business name, which would protect you from others using your business name for similar services. For example I have registered a trademark for my business name. It is protected in all of the landscape related industries plus a couple others that I would like to get into possibly in the future. But I may not be protected from people using the name in another non-related industry. Similar to what I said above about McDonald's, you can't open a burger joint called McDonald's, but you can open a landscape company called McDonald's.

    To protect your name it must be registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office. Once you file the application you can use the (TM) with the name. Once the trademark application is accepted by the feds you can use the (R) symbol.

    If someone is illegally using your registered business name to promote their business you might be able to seek financial retribution for sales they made using your name as well as for any damage their use of the name might have caused you. For example somebody illegally uses the name McDonalds for a burger joint and the interested is in the news because of a mass case of food poisoning. People will see this and assume the national burger chain and thus their reputation would be damaged. As far as a small landscaper you would have trouble enforcing this out of your service area. For example if you trademark "Joe's Landscape" and you conduct your service in Florida, you will have trouble showing that "Joe's Landscape" in Marquisette is effecting your business.
     
  4. easy-lift guy

    easy-lift guy LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,376


    Although in theory it may be possible to recover losses from any and all intellectual property right violations, I
    believe the more layers of protection
    One incorporates into to protecting one rights the better the chances are for winning a judgement against the violators. If push comes to shove it will still be up to a judge and a jury to deside the final out come.
    I myself just had Two separate acts against my intellectual property rights take place within the last 3 months. I had my attorney take care of the first one and I took care of the Second one. 2-0-0 for the season so far. There will be others of course so remember always protect what is yours.
    easy-lift guy
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2012
  5. cutman2000

    cutman2000 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 202

    You really cleared up validated a few things for me. Thanks.

    But one more thing. Unless a landscaping company is planing on franchising itself out, or working nationally, is the trademark necessary for our industry?
     
  6. easy-lift guy

    easy-lift guy LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,376

    It go's back to branding and how long you want to maintain this form of advertising as part of your marketing.
    Best Regards
    easy-lift guy
    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  7. GreenI.A.

    GreenI.A. LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,132

    One reason to do an actual trademark is that it offer's more protection locally than just registering your company name with the State. Here in MA for example if you are a LLC, Corp, Inc, etc you are registered with the state, but if you are a DBA under your self personally you register with your local town. But if you are for an LLC and you have a DBA that is a subsidiary of the LLC then you do not need to register the subsidies name. Basically say your state registered company is Joe's Landscaping, LLC; while no one else can register that name with the state, a company called Mike's Construction LLC could establish a subsidiary named Joe's Landscaping. If it was ran as a division and DBA of the parent company then it would not need to be registered with the state.

    Also I missed part of your question in your first post. If you trademark your name you have little ground to stand on in regards from keeping someone from using it, if they were using the name before you trademarked it. If you were to try report them to the feds for trademark infringement, they would simply need to show anything dated that they have that shows how long they have been using the name. More than likely they will not be forced drop their business name, but you will still be protected from somebody new starting up in the same town with your name.
     

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