Good morning. Your business partner is right on this issue. This is one of those issues that needs to be taken care of now before you become really successful. The names are XXXXX XXXXX similar...regardless of whether your business models overlap...and they have it first. You can probably purchase this name from them now or get consent now without too much difficulty, but if you wait until you are really successful, then they can pretty much hold you hostage because at that point your name is XXXXX XXXXX you and they have the right to it.
I hope this has given you the guidance you were seeking. I wish you the best of luck!
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The information given here is not legal advice. As all states have different intricacies in their laws, the information given is general only. This communication does not establish an attorney-client relationship with you. I hope this answer has been helpful to you.