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J.Hazelbaker, Attorney
Category: Business Law
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Experience:  Experienced and trained in the area of business law.
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I have a full-time physical fitness business in San Mateo

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I have a full-time physical fitness business in San Mateo County named FIT FOR LIFE. I registered the name in 2005. I just discovered that somebody started a business named FIT FOR LIFE SOLUTIONS less than 3 miles away from me in 2008 (registered in 2007). I'm concerned that their name may be confusing to potential clients of mine. Can I use the small claims court system to get them to stop using my name? If not, what are my options?

Jim Jensen

First, you need to check with the California Secretary of State to see if the pirate name is registered. You can do that here:


If it is registered, then you need to file a complaint with the Secretary of State for violation the name registration statute and it's own regulations, which can be viewed here:


If the company is not registered, then you need to send a written cease and desist letter to the company, citing its violation of California trade name law and your company's identity/intellectual property rights. This carries more weight, if done through an attorney.


Unfortunately, this is not something you can do in small claims court or without an attorney. Your company is considered a separate legal entity. Even though you are the owner, you can't represent your company in court without an attorney. It's a costly barrier, I certainly understand, but that is currently the way the system is set up. You could represent yourself, but only an attorney can represent your business, even though you may be the only owner of the business.


Please let me know, if you have follow-up questions.


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