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Someone using your company name

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by ams, May 3, 2018.

  1. ams

    ams Very Active Member

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    A person emailed me about making a sign and is out of state. I told him we were not in that state, so he scanned in a copy of the yellow pages and showed my company on there. Someone used my exact company name and it's a sign shop inside of a home. No huge deal as they don't have any website or details online, but it is very confusing to people and if they have a bad reputation, then I can get that reputation. I am assuming as long as I don't have my business incorporated in that state, then I can't do anything legally?
     
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  2. Gino

    Gino Major Contributor

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    Do you have your company name registered under a ficticious name in your state ?? That's all ya need. You don't hafta be incorporated in every state. One of the first things you do when opening ANY business, anywhere.
     
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  3. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    In order to prevent anyone from using your name in the country you have to register it as a trademark with the government. It has to be a unique name and not generic. You can prevent people from using your business name in your state if you filed a DBA. But you need to trademark it or or register it nationally.

    I went through something similar from a company in Missouri. They claimed I stole their name and upon further research they registered back in the 70s a a trademark and never renewed it after the 10-year period. I told them to go pound sand. I didn't steal the name from them, they too were not even on the internet so how was I to know they existed?

    There is one company in my local market that has a Google ad that contains my exact business name in that ad heading. It's confusing to customers looking for me, I need to have a talk with them.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2018
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. Gino

    Gino Major Contributor

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    Never heard of a 10 year time limit. Nothing needs to be unique or trademarked, unless that's the term for it today. As long as you are a dba.... and your name is registered, that will last the company's lifetime, unless you change your name.

    When you go to register your name, there is a small wait in time, as they will search the entire country for your exact name you are requesting. If nothing shows up, it's yours. If someone else has the same name for years, but was never registered, it's still yours. Whoever registers first... is who will get the name. Trademarks and copyrights are a different story, but can play a small part in a name. That, you would need an attorney to do for you, to do it correctly.
     
    • Disagree Disagree x 2
  5. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

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    • Like Like x 3
  6. DerbyCitySignGuy

    DerbyCitySignGuy Active Member

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    All trademarks have to be renewed every 10 years, as far as I know.

    [Edit: Every 10 years according to the USPTO.]

    [Edit 2: Though, on the same page, it says even if it expires, the previous name owner may still have common law rights to the name. So, like all other typical government bureaucracy, it probably depends on who you know/who you can afford to hire.]
     
  7. Gino

    Gino Major Contributor

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    Here in our state, once its registered, its good forever. Many other states are like that, too. However, there are some states which require you to renew periodically, but it wasn't that way 40 years ago. Also, we're talking about a name, not a trademarked name. Like I said, that's a different story.
     
  8. DerbyCitySignGuy

    DerbyCitySignGuy Active Member

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    Right, but that doesn't prevent someone in a different state from using the same name. Only in the state you're in. You do have to file a national trademark (as far as I know) to have unilateral use of a name.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  9. Gino

    Gino Major Contributor

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    Yes it does. I know of 3 in which a company far out of state complained and the companies were made to change their name or face some serious charges of being locked down and closed immediately. None of them were sign companies.... other types of business.

    There are companies with the same name as ours..... one is in Texas and another one is down south. For sh!ts & giggles I googled our name and it happens. Am I gonna chase someone down 2,000 miles away ?? Nope, not me. More power to them.
     
  10. bannertime

    bannertime "You guys do banners, right?"

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    We've been going through that kind of stuff for some time now. There isn't much you can do about it unless you put up some money for a good attorney. The state of Texas doesn't care one bit. I told them we'd start operating under a false name and they said they'd come after us, but when I reported some violators they said they wouldn't do anything about it unless they caught them. That was all in the same conversation. They said it's a civil matter. If so, then why do I even need to register my names?! "It's just to give you the ability to file suit." Yet, they still said they'd "come after us." So, who knows. It's all based on who has more money and ability.
     
  11. SqueeGee

    SqueeGee Active Member

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    We recently noticed that another sign company copied our website title tag(see attached pic). 3226ED64-F71A-4D4D-A64A-F0D2E8E4D0F6.png Since we try NOT to take ourselves too seriously(I mean, we’re making signs, not curing cancer) and we try TO be friendly with other shops(there’s plenty of work to go around), I’ve not said anything. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me at least a little. We’re in the creative biz. Being original is important.

    So seeing the OP’s post talking about how someone else has used his “exact company name”, I feel compelled to ask how, on the issue of being authentic and original, he sees what he’s done as any different(other than avoiding the proper use of an apostrophe)?

    For those that don’t know(and why would you?), I work at Performance Signs. AMS = American Made Signs.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2018
  12. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    I'm not surprised...
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2018
  13. ams

    ams Very Active Member

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    That is interesting, not sure how that tag came about. But also you guys are in Ruckersville, so you aren't located in Charlottesville, so that tag doesn't make any sense.
    I know Robbie, he is a good guy, but Catherine on the other hand... That's another story.
     
  14. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    People may be in a smaller suburb but identify with the larger city... I do the same thing. I have technically have a Burleson address but identify with Ft Worth
     
  15. SqueeGee

    SqueeGee Active Member

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    There are a few things to follow-up on here, so I'll go one by one:

    I try to keep a "benefit of the doubt" philosophy and I'm struggling on this one. It's hard to imagine that it came about any other way than copying ours. I think most in our industry would agree that copying is not cool.

    This seems to be an attempt to distract and justify your actions. But in response, the fact that our two facilities are not located in Charlottesville has little to do with our service area. I would be shocked if we didn't do more business in Charlottesville than several companies like yours, combined. That's not a shot at you or the other fine companies in our market. But clearly, the location of our facilities is irrelevant to where our customers come from and even more so removed from the issue of plagiarism.

    I am Robbie and I appreciate the statement. Over the years, we've learned our strengths and tried to play to them. That means when a client comes to us with needs that don't align with our strengths, we try to get them to someone that can do a better job of helping them. I don't think we are unique in this way. We, too, receive referrals from other sign companies.

    Several people within our company and I, personally, have referred potential clients to you. I assume that is how you've developed an opinion of me. Other than that, I'm not sure that we've ever met and can only recall one brief telephone conversation with you.

    Again, this is an attempt to distract from the core issue, which seems to be your "go to" modus operandi. But I'll bite.

    Katherine is my wife and the mother of our 4 children. Any success that our company has achieved has been through her hard work and leadership. She has built a company that provides primary income for 10 families and counting. She works circles around you and your revolving door of unfortunate newbs, Bri-On. The fact that you hold a less than favorable opinion of her only reinforces what a good job she is doing.

    Taken in total, your response makes it clear to me what you are obviously responsible for deliberately copying the title tag. That, the title tag, in itself, is somewhat a non-issue. It's not some amazing, business making tool. We'll change ours soon, to avoid any confusion.

    To me, the issue is handling a mistake. We all make them. I'll make a dozen before lunch. But, man, I sure hope I can do a better job of owning them.

    Best of luck to you.
     
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  16. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

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    Over the years I have had several clients who had to change their name because even though it was a legally registered entity in our state someone somewhere had the name trademarked. And it doesn't even have to be the exact same name, just close enough and in a similar enough business to cause confusion to a customer.
     
  17. DerbyCitySignGuy

    DerbyCitySignGuy Active Member

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    I'm not going to argue the point with you. If you think registering your business name in PA protects your business name in OH, you're flat out wrong. It took me about 30 seconds to find an article on the internet that explains it.
     
  18. JTBoh

    JTBoh Member

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    *Charlottesville's
    *has virtually no limits
    *structures
    *From design to fabrication, installation and repair, we do it all

    The whole things a bit of a mess, honestly. I wouldn't trust a sign company that can't spell and has poor grammar skills posted in their main advertisement to the world.
     
  19. neato

    neato Very Active Member

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    American Made Signs is a pretty generic name, I would guess there are more than 2 companies with that name out there.
    Can you imagine if Extreme Graphics (or Xtreme Graphics, or Xtreme Grafix, or Extreme Grafics) went after every company with the same name? What a waste of time and energy.

    And for the record, Robbie and Katherine are both stand up people and Performance Signs is a top notch award winning sign company.
     
  20. DerbyCitySignGuy

    DerbyCitySignGuy Active Member

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    At least he stopped short of telling you your kids were ugly.

    Probably needs to clean of his shoes, seems like he really stepped in it.
     
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