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JD 1992
JD 1992, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
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Experience:  18 years experience
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I have a 501 c 3 business registered with the city of el

Customer Question

hello. I have a 501 c 3 business registered with the city of el paso texas. A competitor has used the same name for her website. Is this legal? Thank you!
JA: Have you talked to a lawyer yet?
Customer: no
JA: Anything else you think the lawyer should know?
Customer: no
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Expert:  JD 1992 replied 3 months ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to helping you today.

It's not "illegal" as in a criminal act but it certainly could be a violation of your copyright or your trademark.

A copyright is created automatically, but a trademark has to be registered. Registering a name with a city in Texas doesn't mean it is trademarked, to trademark something it actually needs to be registered with the US Trademark office.

However, if you have been using the name, it's not enough just to register it with the city and then not use it, you could go ahead and send in the trademark registration papers and as soon as you receive notice that it is has been registered then you can get a local lawyer to send them a "cease and desist letter" to demand that they stop using the name.

This is actually a very complicated area of the law. You can rigster the trademark yourself, hire alawyer to do it, or hire a service like www.legalzoom.com to fill out the papers for you.

You would want to check first to see if anyone else has registered the trademark before you spend any money trying to register it since if it is already registered then you won't be able to register it as well.

You can run a search at http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks-application-process/search-trademark-database

If your question has been answered then I'd offer my best wishes to you and ask that you please not forget to leave a Positive Rating so I receive credit for my work. Of course, please feel free to ask any follow up questions in this thread. I want to be sure that all of your questions are answered.

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