When you started your business, you did a complete record search to make sure that you had a unique name. You also just spent some time on Google, determining if any other companies in the area had a similar name. No one did, so you registered your company under that name and with the appropriate branding.
However, you’ve recently noticed that another business has opened up that has the same name. It comes up when you run a search for your own company. Are they allowed to do this? Or does this infringe on your rights because you’re already using that name?
Are you working in an identical industry?
It is sometimes possible for two companies to have the same name when they work in very different industries and there would be no risk of confusion for the consumer. A classic example of this is that Delta Airlines can operate under that name, despite the fact that there’s also a company called Delta that sells faucets. No consumer who is searching for an airline ticket is going to be confused by a faucet manufacturer, so they’re both allowed to have the same name.
The second thing to consider is the geographical location of the business. If the businesses don’t overlap, they often can have the same name because, once again, consumers would not be confused. So you may have a problem if there’s another company in the same city with your name, but it may not be an issue if that company exists in another state. Naturally, online commerce and the rise of the internet have made this a bit more complicated.
If you do run into trademark issues and branding problems, be sure you fully understand your legal options.