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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 88273
Experience:  All corporate law, including non-profits and charitable fraternal organizations.
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I have a name of a software product that has been in production

Customer Question

I have a name of a software product that has been in production for some time now. 1 year. It is called Report Manager Professional. It is a report distribution and scheduling system that takes reports from virtually any application you can pull data from and distributes it to users in a variety of formats like PDF Excel and Crystal Reports Access and SQL Server.

The problem is I talked to someone in CA and they have developed the same exact concept 6 months before we could finish. They are a small company and I just want to
I am not worried about getting them back I should have not talked to these people at a dinner I had with them. Now they have taken the idea and delivered it before I could raise the capital.

I am still wanting to go live with this tool. If they have named their product Report Manager and Mine is Called Report Manager Professional is there any way I will be infringing on their name.....? Here is their site...http://r-tag.com/ReportManager.aspx

1. Do I need to purchase the rights of the name.....? I already own a domain with the name......?

I am concerned about the problems I could run into if I do not do something properly. What is frustrating is that they must have taken notes and then turned around and delivered my idea as they had all the work off-shored to India or something. Then beat me to market. However I do not know if the name Report Manager Professional is copyrighted or trademarked or whatever? Don't know what kind of trouble I can get into if I use a similar name being that it is virtually the same product I have been working one the last 18 months. I am in a different state as is my company.

What can I do to protect myself from now infringing on their rights and keep myself out of trouble and still produce a product. Please advise. Thank you.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
If they were the first to use the mark in commerce then you would not be able to simply add "professional" to your name and avoid getting into a trademark dispute with them over the name because it would be considered derivative use. Even if you had the web address with that name first, you have to prove actual use in commerce. You do have one possibility to avoid a conflict and a claim of likelihood of confusion, which is the standard used in trademark law and that is by naming your product (for example) "Joe's distribution report manager" and in an event like that you would in most likelihood be able to argue that your name is XXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXX and not infringing on any of their name rights. Since "distribution report manager" or "scheduling report manager" is merely descriptive of the functions of the software, it would not be capable of achieving trademark status. You are going to have to rework your name though to avoid the likelihood of confusion with their name and to avoid them trying to sue you over the name. Perhaps something like, "Management Report Professional" would be even better because it does not even look like their name.

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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
So something like
Report Manager Professional RS1.....or Report Manager Professional version 1 by Report Solutions.......would using that whole name be effective.

What kills me is that I had a conversation in confidence with a man at dinner and I know he went an told a development group about it and they did it. Had I not lost my best developer to Graduate School I would have finished before them.

It is so damn hard to know who to trust and to know when to speak and when not.

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
I would avoid just adding "professional" to the end, it can still be considered a likelihood of confusion, but Report Solutions Report Manager Professional would likely be considered to not be confusing AND you can argue that your name is XXXXXX XXXXXXXXXX what your product does.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
So you are saying that I could probably get away with saying something like one of the following:

1. RS-Reportmanager Professional
2. Report Solutions - Report Manager Professional
3. Report Manager Professional - RSV1
4. Report Manager Professional - For Access
5. Report Manager Professional - For SQL Reporting Services
6. Report Manager Professional - For Crystal Reports

One thing that was not answered is how can I find out if there is a copywrite, trademark or patent on the product or name. How do I do that sir....?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
I think you missed what I was saying. You keep adding to the end of "Report Manager" which even if they have not obtained a registered trademark on it they would have common law trademark rights to as it identifies their product.

If you state for example, Computerdesigner Report Manager Professional, which identifies it as being sold by your company, such as "Norton Anti-Virus" as distinguished from "McAffe Anti-virus" then you would be fine.

You would need to do a copyright and trademark search. The copyright search is done at http://www.copyright.gov and the trademark would be searched at http://www.uspto.gov.

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