Is it legal to use a former employer’s name to solicit services?

UPDATED: Dec 16, 2011

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Is it legal to use a former employer’s name to solicit services?

Assuming no non-compete clause was signed by the former employee and the list used is publicly available, would it be legal for a former employee to use a former employer’s name as a factual point (i.e. “John Smith, formerly of ABC Company,”) on solicitation materials for a service/industry that is not in competition with the former employer but in an area that may share the same clientele (i.e. a small town)?

Asked on December 16, 2011 under Business Law, Virginia


Michael D. Siegel / Siegel & Siegel, P.C.

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

In addition to the concerns of the other poster, there could be an allegation that you were tortiously interfering in the former employers business.  On the whole, I would not recommend doing it.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

It would be legal if--

1) Used, as stated, purely as a factual description of experience (the same as you can list former employers on a resume or CV);

2) You do not imply any relationship, endorsement, etc. that does not exist;

3) You do not use the company's logo, trade marks, service marks, or other intellectual property of the company, but only factually list their name.

In short, it's easy to get in trouble while doing this, if doing it wrong, so the former employee should consider whether it's worthwhile. After all, if the former employer feels there is some infringement or misrepresenation, even if there is not, they may try to sue, which would force the former employer to spend money and time defending him- or herself.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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