UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022
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I recently did a search on my Online Boutique business name, Just to see where i
ranked in a google search and found another website stating coming soon using my
registered business name and the Logo even looks the same. Does this fall under
Copyright infringement and should i reach out even the email they have is almost
identical to my company email.
Asked on May 6, 2017 under Business Law, New York
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 5 years ago | Contributor
Business names are typically not copyrightable: too short, not original or unique enough to meet copyright criteria. So it is unlikely to be copyright infringement of the name itself.
The logo, is an original graphic design, would be copyright your business, and if they are using it or a similar one obviously derived from it, this would be copyright infringement for the logo.
It MAY be trademark infringement, IF you had trademarked your name and/or (assuming the name or logo met the criteria for trademark: e.g. originality); if you had not trademarked it, it would not be infringement: you have to actively or affirmatively protect trademarks or potential trademarks.
IF the business is in a similar line of business to you and is selling to the same customer pool or market, then even without trademark, this may be "unfair competition" under the Lanham Act: an act to try to confuse customers and potential customers as to where the goods or services come from. But if they do not compete with you in terms of what they provide (e.g. different products, services) or in terms of who they sell to (e.g either they or you have no real online commerce, so sales are essentially local, and even if they provide similar products or services, they do so in a different geographic area, to different customers), then this is not unfair competition, either.
If there are any violations of copyright, trademark, or unfair competition law, you could sue them to get them to stop and/or first send them a cease and desist letter, then sue if they don't stop doing this. A good idea would be to consult with an intellectual property attorney and let him/her help you.
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