What's In a Name?
Q: I found our company name on the Internet while doing a search. The site has a URL different from my company name. In fact, it is a construction company and I have a software development company. The other company is using the name for a construction product. I am using it for a company name and URL on the Internet. I own the URL already. My question is this: Before I get too far into the trademark process, is there a possible infringement on the name even though we are both using it for two completely different purposes? I would like to avoid spending a lot of money for trademark searches if possible. p>As a general rule, trademarks do not infringe one another if the underlying products or services of the two companies do not compete and are not distributed in the same trade channels.
A: As you describe your situation, you and the construction company should able to co-exist quite nicely. However, if the name in question is well known, then you may have what is called a dilution problem--that is, one of the names might be considered as a dilution of the famous name's strength as a brand.
A moneysaving tip: You can now do a trademark search free on the Internet at www.uspto.gov.
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