What happens in a case of similar business name and service?

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What happens in a case of similar business name and service?

I own a photography business called Graham Photography Services, LLC. I got a call today from a gentleman stating he owned a photography business called Graham Photo / Video. He hinted that he won a case in the 80’s over this same issue, and never came right out and said “I’m going to sue you” but he did say “we have a problem” and hinted at litigation. He is a wedding photographer only, and I am an architectural and aerial photographer. He is also not listed as a business with the state so I assume he is a sole proprietor. Should I be worried?

Asked on July 31, 2010 under Business Law, Georgia

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

So what he is claiming is infringement of some sort.  I am assuming that you share the same name.  Generally the test is whether or not the name will likely cause confusion amongst consumers.  There are specific distinctions that are too difficult to get in to here.  I can see that you have corporation status and he does not.  That may not be enough.  It is worrisome whenever anyone threatens your name and livelihood. You may want to consider distinguishing your businesses further by re-naming it "Graham Architectural and Ariel Photography, LLC."  The specificity can not mislead in any way.  No one will mistake you for a wedding photographer.  If you do not wish to do so then seek advice from a copyright attorney in your state.  Good luck.


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