If there is a company in the UK that has a similar name to mine here in the US, since we are in different countries would there still be an issue?

UPDATED: Jun 14, 2015

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If there is a company in the UK that has a similar name to mine here in the US, since we are in different countries would there still be an issue?

In business, I understand similar names may pose legal trouble.

Asked on June 14, 2015 under Business Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

There would only be an issue if:

1) You and the other company provide similar goods or services;

2) You both sell, despite being in different nations, to the same market, which is unlikely but possible (e.g. if you both sell primarily by internet and furthermore, you are marketing and selling to the same pool of customers); and 

3) The names really are confusingly similar.

If the above is the case, there may be a likelihood of customer confusion and/or violation of trademark, trade name, or service mark. In those situations, the older, most established company (using the name first) may be able to prevent the other from using the name; but to do so, would have to file a legal action in a court with jurisdiction over the alleged infringer, which is difficulty and expensive to do internationally.

Overally, the likelihood of a problem in real terms is very low, unless one or both of you are such large companies as to make an international legal fight worthwhile if 1) - 3) above are met.

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