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Have I killed my business? (Trademark Infringement)

TimTheCoder

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Yesterday I received an email from someone about a trademark infringement. We are in the same industry and our names differ by 1 letter. However, when I registered the domain name they were not around. Their site seems to be quite new while mine is almost 2 years old and has a few blogs and videos about it. Theirs seems to not have this yet, I feel they may be trying to piggyback off my existing traffic.

Problem is, I have not trademarked my name as I'm still in the process of trying to make revenue, so I'm worried this means I will have to change it. Is there anything I can do to keep the name?

I'm a student and I don't really have the money to spend on trademarking (or lawyers!) as of yet, so I wanted to focus on generating revenue before I worried about legal issues. Perhaps this was a mistake.

I really like my current name and don't want to change it, I'm worried it will destroy my business. Anyone got any advice?

Thanks in advance.
 

fvcorp

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It’s time for you to play a game of poker.

This other group would appear to have some cash to burn.

They are showing their hand and telling you that they have cash because protecting their IP will not be free.

This is your chance to respond with evidence that you have been around longer and their trademark may be in question.

Along with this information, I would offer to sell. Give them a number. Less than what their legal fees would be.

Discuss this with your lawyer.
 

UnrealCreative

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Hey Tim, I've run into this problem before.

Have you searched your name in the US Trademark Database yet?
TESS -- Error

This is your chance to respond with evidence that you have been around longer and their trademark may be in question.
Exactly. If they're brand new they're likely trying to bully you into backing out.
Tall hat, no cattle.

So, assuming they aren't some super old company with a trademark that out-ages your existence, they will have no basis to claim copyright because you have First Use.

You can look more into it, but basically it protects the name from being trademarked by any other party if you've been using it longer.

So here's what I'd do:

1: Respond with "Please forward this to my attorney, 'legal@timthecoder.co' and a phone number to reach you please. Thank You." This is to smoke them out.
2: If they're still giving you a hard time, call them. Say firmly that they have no legitimate case in a court of law, as you have first use. Explain what it is, and propose a counter offer to sell the domain name like @fvcorp said.
3: I'd get that name trademarked asap, just in case.

This is not legal advice. I am not your lawyer.
 

TimTheCoder

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So, assuming they aren't some super old company with a trademark that out-ages your existence, they will have no basis to claim copyright because you have First Use.
Well, I've recently found that they are listed under the Canadian trademarks and it was registered BEFORE my site was created. Weird that their site doesn't seem to have any history, perhaps it was an offline service and they've recently taken it online. I'm assuming this means I'm screwed?
 

UnrealCreative

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I'm assuming this means I'm screwed?
It's possible, not sure.

I'd seek an IP attorney (see if you can get a free consultation and call).
Maybe Canadian trademarks don't apply in the US, and vice versa.
It's also possible they don't have a case since your name differs slightly.

I honestly don't know at this point.

Any IP experts on the forum want to chime in?
 

Kak

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See what you can do to work with them and genuinely try to avoid confusion.

If yours was first used in commerce, you are probably fine.

No. You didn't kill your business. Try to work something out or call a lawyer.
 
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ZF Lee

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If yours was first used in commerce, you are probably fine.
Can you elaborate on this? How would this route work out?

What kind of commerce? Selling on a local flea market, as compared to licensed means, say retail? Dunno if the law has boundaries as to what commerce would stand for.
 

Kak

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Can you elaborate on this? How would this route work out?

What kind of commerce? Selling on a local flea market, as compared to licensed means, say retail? Dunno if the law has boundaries as to what commerce would stand for.
People can sue anyone for anything. The best thing to do is look strong yet cooperative. Like you can make this expensive for them, but instead of cutting each others throats let's just come to an agreement.

I'm not a lawyer and this isn't legal advice.
 
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