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Thomas Swartz
Thomas Swartz, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 2998
Experience:  Twenty one years experience as a lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Former Appellate Law Clerk.
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I live in California and I want to start my own Wedding Planning

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I live in California and I want to start my own Wedding Planning business called Creative Weddings. Another company in Florida uses this name but they are not a wedding planning company and there is one in Colorado that is a planning company. The trademarks for the Colorado business name/logo expired in 2008. Can I use the name? How can I tell if the name itself or just the logo they are using is trademarked? Is trademarking necessary?

I think you are pretty safe using the name. Since the registered U.S. trademarks are now expired or abandoned, the name "Creative Weddings" is available to be trademarked by someone else. In addition, the trademarks that were registered were design marks, so just the words themselves would be available.

With respect to the Florida company, I did not see any trademark registered by them for "Creative Weddings." This may be because they are just a local Florida business. Which brings me to the other part of your question - is trademarking necessary? Trademarking is not really necessary unless you intend to use the name in interstate commerce (i.e. if you do wedding planning outside of California). If you just plan on doing wedding planning inside of California, then you could just register your trademark with the California Secretary of State's Office, and this would prevent someone else in California from using the name "Creative Weddings." You can find the California Trademark Registration Form Here.

Of course if you ever plan on doing business in other states, then it would make sense to register a federal trademark with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

In addition, the Florida business indeed does not seem to be directly involved in the planning business but rather in the business of invitations, etc. So, there would be little chance of consumer confusion.

If the Colorado planning business ever complains about you using the name, you could respond by saying their trademark expired or was abandoned, and that they are also a local business.

So, again I think you are pretty safe.

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