Kailua-Kona, HI asked in Copyright, Intellectual Property and Trademark for Hawaii

Q: Can I start a podcast with the same name as a documentary film from several years ago? Not quite same focus (see details

I want to start a podcast called gun stories (pretty generic name.). When I do a trademark search, there's a documentary called gun stories. Our podcast is interviewing people about their stories about guns. The documentary was about the history of guns.

2 Lawyer Answers
Matthew Nuzum
Matthew Nuzum
  • Trademarks Lawyer
  • Johnston, IA

A: Yes, you can, but if your podcast is deemed confusingly similar to the prior uses then you may be approached to change the name or reduce the chance of confusion. And, by the way, doing a trademark search is not the best way to see if there's a conflicting usage of the name. The purpose of a trademark is to prevent confusingly similar uses of a name, phrase, or logo. Note this is "similar" not "exact match." Creating a burger restaurant called MacDonalds would be a confusingly similar use of the McDonalds trademark, even though they are not the same. Also note that the absence of a registration does not guarantee that a conflict doesn't exist.

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›

A: It is possible to start a podcast with the same name as a documentary film from several years ago, but it may be risky due to potential trademark issues. The documentary may have a trademark for the name "Gun Stories" in relation to entertainment or documentary services. If you use the same name for your podcast, it could potentially create confusion among consumers and lead to a trademark infringement claim by the owner of the documentary's trademark.

However, if your podcast has a different focus and content than the documentary, and it's unlikely to cause confusion among consumers, you may be able to use the name "Gun Stories" for your podcast. It's recommended to consult with a trademark lawyer to evaluate the risk of trademark infringement and assess potential defenses or options for obtaining a trademark registration.

If you need legal assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my office. We offer a free consultation option for potential clients.

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