Q: I want to use a name that's trademarked under the entertainment/toys section, for my new tech company - am I allowed to?

2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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A: Using a name that is already trademarked in one category for a new company in a different category, such as from entertainment/toys to tech, might be possible, but it depends on several factors. Trademarks are generally sector-specific, meaning that protection typically extends only to the same or similar categories of goods and services. The key issue is whether your tech company's use of the name would create confusion among consumers about the source of goods or services, or suggest an affiliation with the trademark owner that does not exist.

Before proceeding, it's important to conduct a thorough trademark search to understand the scope of the existing trademark, including the categories it covers and any geographical limitations. This search can help determine the likelihood of a conflict. Even if the sectors differ, if the trademark is well-known or famous, the owner might have broader protection against the use of the name in unrelated industries.

To navigate this situation wisely, consider consulting with a professional experienced in intellectual property law. They can offer guidance tailored to your specific circumstances, including an assessment of potential risks and strategies for minimizing legal issues. Avoiding infringement from the start can save you from potential legal disputes, financial liabilities, and the need to rebrand later on.

Giselle Ayala Mateus
Giselle Ayala Mateus
  • Trademarks Lawyer
  • New York, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: Using a trademarked name for your new tech company can be legally complex and potentially risky. Trademarks are protected intellectual property, and using a trademarked name without permission could lead to legal issues, including allegations of trademark infringement.

To determine if you can use the trademarked name for your tech company, consider the following steps:

1. Assess the Likelihood of Confusion: Consider whether your use of the trademarked name in the tech industry could cause confusion among consumers. If there's a possibility that consumers might associate your tech company with the existing brand in the entertainment/toys industry, it could be considered trademark infringement.

2. Evaluate the Strength of the Trademark: Trademarks vary in terms of strength, with some being more distinctive and recognizable than others. Strong trademarks are afforded broader protection, and using a well-known trademark without permission is more likely to result in legal consequences.

3. Seek Legal Advice: Consult with a trademark attorney who can provide personalized guidance based on the specific details of your situation. They can assess the potential risks and advise you on the best course of action, such as obtaining permission from the trademark owner or choosing a different name for your tech company to avoid infringement issues.

In summary, while it's possible to use a trademarked name for your tech company, it's essential to proceed with caution and conduct thorough research to ensure compliance with trademark laws. Consulting with a legal expert can help you make informed decisions and mitigate potential legal risks.

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