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Alex Reese
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Experience:  Experienced in intellectual property law
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I run a small non-profit. A larger, nationally known corporation

Resolved Question:

I run a small non-profit. A larger, nationally known corporation has a very similar name to ours which is trademarked, and has sent me a letter asking us to stop using our name. What do I do? The other company is a for profit corporation and is moving into our area in the fall of 2013. Can you give me any suggestions?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Expert:  Alex Reese replied 1 year ago.

Alex Reese :

hello

Alex Reese :

are the two companies in the same class (field) of goods/services?

Alex Reese :

also, has your company been using the name longer than they have been using theirs?

Customer:

Yes, we both provide child care services. They have 500 centers all across the nation, 58 of them in New Jersey. They will be moving into Fort Myers in the fall.

Customer:

I believe they trademarked their name in 1988

Alex Reese :

so you are in Florida, and they have thus far not been in florida at all?

Customer:

I believe they also have a center in Orlando, which is about 4 hours north of here.

Alex Reese :

were they in Florida in 2000 when you started using the name?

Customer:

I have not found that out, but can look into it further.

Alex Reese :

if not then they should not be able to prevent your use of the name

Alex Reese :

unless they had a registered federal TM before 2000

Alex Reese :

yes, it will depend on when they got their federal TM and also when they started using the mark in florida

Alex Reese :

but these situations are rarely cut and dry since TM law is not so clear cut

Customer:

I believe they trademarked their name in 1988. How much does trademarking a name involve, is there a website to look at?

Alex Reese :

but if you have been using the name in florida longer than they have, then you have a good position

Alex Reese :

you can see their TM registration on the USPTO website/database

Alex Reese :

www.uspto.gov (go to trademarks, then search trademarks)

Customer:

I just looked at their website, they have SEVERAL child care centers all over the state, no dates as to when each opened, but with more research, I may be able to determine that

Alex Reese :

if they had it registered in 1988 and were already a national/large entity by 2000, then you may have a conflict, although its rather late for them to be coming after you

Alex Reese :

you can argue "laches" defense also...ie i have been using this name since 2000 and they have not been around or cared to complain so it would be unfair to make me change names now

Alex Reese :

yes, do some more research and then call a local TM attorney

Customer:

Thank you very much for your help!

Alex Reese :

sure best of luck!

Customer:

thanks again

Alex Reese, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 2991
Experience: Experienced in intellectual property law
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