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Trademark Infringement Law Q&A

Is it trademark infringement if someone else is using my company's name but for a different business?

Hypothetical:

While performing a routine internet search for his company, Bob finds out that there is another company using his name in a different line of business. Bob's business builds business communications networks for its customers in Oregon and he has named his business Bob Builds IT. While searching the internet for his business, he ran across Bob Builds It, a small business that does carpentry in Ohio. Bob now wants to know whether a violation of trademark law.

Answer:

Trademark infringement law seeks to prevent customer confusion. Thus, if someone is using a similar trademark and customers might not understand who they are buying a product or service from, trademark confusion has occurred and only one party should be entitled to use the trademark.

In this hypothetical, however, it is extremely unlikely that anyone would be confused by a carpenter when buying a computer and vice versa. Also, given the geographic separation, confusion is even less likely. Accordingly, these businesses seem to be coexisting well, with little or no overlap between their customers, and there is likely no violation of trademark law.

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