Two companies in different countries - same business name. Any legal issues?

sean7

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Is it possible to get into trouble running a business here with a same name as a business in the US (or any other country outside EU) providing same/similar services? I'm talking about small business, no registered trademarks and no products brands involved. Just wondering what happens if the other business is not happy about this and what can they legally do. I did see number of businesses over years with the same names (and providing same/similar services) in different countries so perhaps it's not a problem unless they have trademark registered in this country?
 

WizardDr

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@sean7 generally what you are describing is 'passing off'. If A was holding itself out to be B, B could have a cause of action. In general you have some money to be able to take an action but some are v aggressive and the problem in law is that the winner gets costs from the defendant. So usually the aggressor threatens all sort of action - and A has to weigh up whether it should continue with the strategy. A may protest that whats being done is no where near what B says - would you take your chances against (say( McDonalds whose pockets are far deeper etc

In many cases there are probably no consequences
 

sean7

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Thanks @WizardDr, what if company B has done a lot of work on it's branding and suddenly discovered that there is another business in a complete different region of the world with same name in the same business area. Company B does not want to change the new branding since a lot of money and work has gone into it and does not see interference with another company as primary trading regions/continents are completely different. Should company B continue with the strategy and perhaps even register a trademark in Ireland to secure the name in this region or should it drop the name altogether? We are talking small businesses here..

I would like to hear someone else's opinion.
 

Padraigb

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It hardly qualifies as passing off if there is intention of deceiving anybody, and no real danger that anybody will be misled. If there is a small business in, say, Chicago providing a similar service to one in Ireland using the same name, and both are genuinely local businesses, I think there is no problem.
 

Purple

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There is a company in England and a different company in the USA with the same name as the one I work for. All three of us work in the same sector. We were around first but the other two are trading for over 20 years. It's only with the internet that we became aware of their existence. It's never caused us a problem.
 

Jim2007

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Should company B continue with the strategy and perhaps even register a trademark in Ireland to secure the name in this region or should it drop the name altogether? We are talking small businesses here..

I would like to hear someone else's opinion.
Even if you did register it, it does not mean that they other company could not get a court order requiring you to release it.

Starting a new business is difficult enough without adding an extra risk into the mix, one that easily can be avoided since you already know of it's existence.

I can't understand why you would put all that effort into establishing a business and then risk looking it over something as simple as this.
 

RandyTor

Registered User
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1
From your posts I gather there is nothing wrong with it. The problem usually arises when at least one of them is a big established company. In that case these trade mark issues and registrations will all come into play. In such a case it will be better if you go to a good business incorporation service like the NBN Business Services Inc in Ontario to change name of your business.
Otherwise it is no big deal. Similar business firms having same names are common.
 
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