If you have a particular name that you want to use or are already using for your business, it is important to act quickly to find out if anyone else is using that name. There a few simple research steps and searches that you can do yourself, right now, which can give you a better idea of the status of your business name.
Before getting started with these steps, it is essential to remember that you perform several different searches. Try alternative spellings, as well as putting in additional words that might make sense to be included within the name. Basically, you want to try and search for anything that might sound like or get confused with the name that you have selected.
The first step is easy enough, simply run a few searches with an online search engine, like Google, of the business name. Pay attention to the results for not only exact name matches but similar matches that are making or performing related goods or services to what you had in mind with the name.
Next you can try going to a domain name registration site, such as GoDaddy.com, and entering in your business name into the domain name search. This will let you know whether or not someone already owns that website domain. Remember to take note that even if your preferred domain like .com is available, be sure to look through the other search results to see if someone is using your business name in another domain like .net, .us or others.
Digging in a bit deeper with your research, you should go to the U.S. Patent Office website. Here you will be able to see if someone has previously trademarked your business name. To run the search, go to tmsearch.uspto.gov, then click on “Basic Word Mark Search” and start running different searches to see what names have been trademarked.
Now that you have searched the national trademark database, you will want to narrow down your research more locally. You can do this by visiting the website for the Office of the Secretary of State for each state that you are or might do business in. For example, the Colorado Secretary of State website is sos.state.co.us, and from there you can select “Businesses, trademarks, trade names,” then click on “Search business database.” Now you can run searches to see trademarks, trade names, and business names.
Following these steps will help you go from a broad to narrow perspective in your research, so that you can hone in on what exactly is happening with a particular business name. With all of this new information in hand, you can begin thinking more seriously about what to do next with your business name.
If you have any questions about what your research turned up or if you are ready to take the next step in forming your business or protecting a business name, do not hesitate to reach out to the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, PC, the home of your Denver Business Lawyer, Elizabeth Lewis at 720-258-6647 or email her at Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com.
In yet another brewery trademark case, this week it was announced that Kettle and Stone Brewery based in Boulder will be changing its name. The reason? Stone Brewing Co. out of California believed that the name could be confused with its more established brand.
This isn’t the first case that has involved breweries. In the last few years, cases have surfaced in the news about Strange Brewery out of Denver, Oskar Blues out of Longmont, and Left Hand Brewery out of Longmont. One of the more notorious cases even resulted in a new beer – Collaboration Not Litigation was the result of two breweries who combined their same named beers rather than go to court over the matter.
So how do you make sure the name you want to use isn’t going to infringe on someone else’s name? The first step is to do a basic Google search of the name. If when you search for the name you want to use, it comes up in Google as being used by someone else in the same or similar industry you probably want another name. The second step is to do a search through the USPTO. Again, if the name comes up as being used in the same or similar industry, probably another name is best. However, if you don’t find anything then the next step is to talk to an attorney that works with trademarks. The attorney can have a formal trademark search run to see if there are any issues and help you through the trademark process.
If you have any questions, please feel free to call me, your Denver Small Business Attorney, at 720-258-6647.
Today was a great day – rain was falling in our state which had been dry for weeks. It was the beginning of a great week. We had just celebrated the Fourth of July and I had been on a slight vacation – partially by chance and partially due to health. I was glad to be back to a full work week.
However, my first week back to work was quickly brought down by a phone call. This person alerted me that someone was using my information to sell items through kijiji.com. This person is stating that she is an attorney located in Denver Colorado and must sell items through kijiji (the Canadian version of our Craiglist’s) such as instruments and machinery. The person is saying that the buyer should go through a site called sell2pal and submit all the money in advance and then the items will be shipped to them.
I have never sold on the kijiji website. I have also never sold to anyone in Canada. Needless to say, this made me realize how easy it is to become a victim of identify theft. So, in addition to saying if you are buying large items though kijiji I recommend you don’t if it is through someone saying they are an attorney in denver named Elizabeth Lewis, I recommend in any case you do the following:
- Never send money up front – especially large sums of money.
- Make sure you know who you are dealing with. If you are going to be making a large purchase, the person should have a name, number, address, and other information that is verifiable.
- If you are making a large purchase and must put money down, have an agreement to go through any escrow agent to hold the funds before delivery of the item.
- Lastly, if a deal seems to good to be true, it probably is.
And, finally, if you get contacted by someone saying they are lizzyhome at gmail.com, run the other way. I’ve never gone by Lizzy and am not selling items in Canada. Use some common sense. Do some research. Call the supposed person you are buying from. And, no, I am not selling anything at this time – especially not to anyone in Canada!
As an attorney that frequently speaks on social media, online law, and other techy legal issues, I get asked by employers what they can and can’t do as far as investigating applicants online. Unfortunately, the answer really varies on the specific circumstances. However, in most cases, employers should follow at least the following basic rules:
- Don’t do anything online that you can’t do offline. For instance, do not use information you find online to discriminate against a potential new hire. If you cannot discriminate against someone due to having children offline, you can’t research whether they have children online.
- You may be required to tell individuals where you get information about them during the interview process. If you are going to hire a company to research online sources to find out more about applicants, check with your attorney to determine if you must reveal this under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
- After hire, make sure you clearly state what you expect from employees both on and off the job regarding the use of social media. For instance, do you need to worry about complying with the FTC endorsement rules (i.e. if your employee says good things about you do the disclose the employment status)?
Depending on the number of employees you have and the type of business you have, you may need to have a policy on both using social media in the hiring process and after hire. If you are hiring employees, or have employees and haven’t thought about whether you need a policy before this, contact me, your Denver Small Business Lawyer today to find out if you need one today.
Does every website need one?
What You Need To Include
Why You Need One