Q: I'd like to start a business, but the name I want to use is being used by another company in a different state.
Am I still able to use it in my state?
A: Yes. If the name is not used or reserved at the MA secretary of state , you can use the name. If the name is already trademarked at the federal level, however, you would be better advised to pick a different business name or some modifier that distinguishes your business from the prior one i.e., eliminates "likelihood of confusion."
A: Typically, if the name you want to use hasn't already been used in your State, then the State--or in this case, the Commonwealth--won't object to you using that name for your business' formal name (or for fictitious business name). You'll also probably find that you're able to successfully file for a State Trademark. The problem with doing this is that if the other, out-of-State entity already using that name is offering the same or similar products and services you that you offer or intend to offer, that other company may well have a valid Trademark infringement claim against you. That's a risk you may choose to take, but I'd consider the massive headaches potentially involved--not only of potentially having to pay damages to the infringed-upon party, but also of having to subsequently rebrand and re-market your company from scratch.
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