As a business owner, you know the name of your company is very important. It identifies you to your customers, it’s part of your branding and you’ve worked hard to build up your reputation around that name. It is a form of intellectual property that your company owns.
However, you may run an online search and find out that there are other businesses with the same name. Is this legal, or is it a violation of your intellectual property rights that could lead to litigation?
Restrictions on consumer confusion
In many cases, businesses are not allowed to use the same name. The reason for this is consumer confusion. If a consumer believes they’re shopping from one company but they are actually making a purchase from another, that would be unfair to the consumer. This law also protects your intellectual property rights as a business owner, but consumer confusion is the main focus.
As a result, if there isn’t consumer confusion, then the other business may be able to use the same name. For instance, maybe they’re located in another state. Or perhaps their business operates in a completely different industry. While it is true that Delta Faucets and Delta Airlines have similar names, they are allowed to use them because they are operating in such different spaces.
That being said, this can be a bit of a gray area. How different do the industries have to be? How far apart do the businesses need to be? How similar are the names in the first place? There are a lot of questions to ask and it’s important for business owners to understand all of their legal rights.