Is this going to cause problems with another business name?

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Is this going to cause problems with another business name?

Hello. I am asking this question regarding a new business start-up, specifically
the company name. ‘Smart Panda’ is the direction I would like to go in for the
name of my business selling on amazon and all around the e-commerce world. There
is a company that is named Smart Panda Labs which is an internet Marketing
service in Orlando. In addition, on a business search website resulted in ‘Smart
Panda Limited’ being a LLC I guess. Not sure if the site is legit or reliable.
It’s not exactly the same. So am I in the clear? Or should I go another route. If
further action is required what do I do? I am very new to owning a business but I
am trying to take the right steps and learn as much as I can.

Asked on March 24, 2018 under Business Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If there is no company using the Smart Panda name in your state, you could register it as a business name to use. (To oversimplify: you generally need a currenty unregistered in your state name in order to register your business; it doesn't matter if it is registered elsewhere, so long as it is not your state.) But you need to also consider the impact of intellectual property (e.g. trademark): if there are other companies using this name, then 1) that reduces your ability to protect (e.g. trademark) the name, which can reduce the name's value to you; and 2) it is possible that if one of the other Smart Pandas has registered a trademark for the name, that they could take action to stop you from infringing their trademark (i.e. from using the name). If you know of other usages, therefore, you are generally better off finding an unused name. 
A good place to check on usage, by the way, is to go to the U.S. Patent Trademark Office (PTO) website and search for trademark availability for "Smart Panda": that will show if others have registered the mark or at least applied for a trademark for it.


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