Can Two Businesses Have the Same Name?

In trademark infringement cases, courts examine whether two companies operating in the same industry would confuse consumers. If a name is likely to cause confusion because it is the same or similar to another business name, it cannot be used. The most important factor in business name disputes that are examined in court cases is customer confusion. This boils down to geographical location and industry.

For example, an individual in Wisconsin has created several unbranded companies with incredibly similar names to those of its competitors. This may not be criminal fraud unless something else is going on, such as if money was taken and goods or services were not provided. Discovering that another company uses a name similar to yours can be disheartening for a small business owner who has invested time, money and effort into starting a company. There is potential for customers to get confused if the names are similar and the companies operate in the same market.

It is important to know what legal options you have to protect your business. To ensure that your company name is only yours, start by incorporating your company at the provincial and federal levels. During the business formation of an LLC or corporation, you should seek business name registration in your state and choose a name that is not yet registered. Additionally, you can find out who is using the current domain and social media usernames and what their business activity is. If there's a midsize business in another state with the same name, customers won't be confused as long as they operate in different markets. Nor can it resemble the name of another company in your geographical area that sells similar products or services.

The laws were created to prevent companies from having the same name and to avoid customer confusion, especially if both are large national companies. To determine who has priority, there are a number of factors that must be taken into account. When incorporated at both levels, your company name is reserved for use only by your company throughout Canada, and you have a legal right to use the name. A search by company name will tell you if someone else is using the name of a company in your state or not.

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