Q: I'm opening up a new retail store and want to know if I can use a trademarked company name to describe my store.
I want to remain anonymous so I'll just use a made up example. Let's say there was a company called "Home Improvement Shop" and that company had a trademark on that name. Could I start a company called "Do-It-Yourself Depot", and then under that say "Home Improvement Shop". So I'm not using a trademarked name as my name, but technically using a trademarked name to describe what kind of shop I have. So on my logo it would say "Do-It-Yourself Depot" and underneath that it would say "Home Improvement Shop". I'm operating in Illinois and "Home Improvement Shop" operates exclusively in Oregon. Neither of us do eCommerce. Trademark infringement or no?
A: An attorney would need to review the exact language. Based on the limited information, this probably is trademark infringement because it would likely result in confusion of the source, sponsorship, or affiliation with the other company's trademark. A federal trademark provides nationwide protection, so the fact that the two businesses are operating in different states does not negate infringement.
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