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Roger, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
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Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
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I own a real estate co that specializes in a Del Webb "Sun

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I own a real estate co that specializes in a Del Webb "Sun City" subdivision. I believe "Sun City" is trademarked. Since Sun City is the only subdivision that we do, may I name my company something like Sun City real estate or properties or something like that without being sued? We could say something in our ads etc that we are not the Del Webb Corp. They do pay us for selling their new homes and they do not participate in resale homes. thanks, XXXXX XXXXX
Hi - my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm an Intellectual Property litigation attorney. Thanks for the question.

The words "sun" and "city" cannot be exclusively trademarked to prevent anyone else from using the name "Sun City". However, there could be a claim for trademark infringement.

In situations like this, you have to look at the shared elements of spelling or style that would lead a reasonable observer to believe the names were related or that the companies are the same. Because of the close proximity of your businesses, and if you are in the same style of business, you may be on shaky ground.

If you believe that there's a chance that your business could be confused for the other, then you should likely consider using another name.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

we are the only company allowed to office within the subdivision named Sun City...does it not clarify where we are and what we do? Del Webb does not sell resale homes and that is 99% of our business with the other 1% being their new homes? our company is the Stacy Group, could we not incorporate sun city into our name somehow? thanks

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

if they are aware others are attempting to use the sun city as their name and Del Webb does nothing, is there a time period i should wait before i assume it is ok for me to do the same?

I'm sorry for the delay.

Thanks for the additional information. Given these facts, you may could trademark "Sun City Realty by Stacy Group" or some other name. The standard is that you must not create confusion for a consumer who may mistake you for the other company. As long as you can accomplish that, then you should be ok.

As for the timing, the first in time is the first in right to use the trademark. Thus, if Del Webb has used the name first, then it has trademark rights above anyone else.

If you can use the name and add something to it to create enough of a difference so it will no confuse the public/consumers, then you should be ok.

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