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Clothing Company Name

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2017 9:52 pm    Post subject: Clothing Company Name Reply with quote

Hi there,

I am a tattooist from the midlands who has been toying with idea of starting a clothing line for some time. During this period, I have created artwork and graphics which I believe will be popular with potential customers.

The problem I have encountered is finding a clothing brand name that has not already been used. By this I don’t mean established brands such as Stussy or Nike, I mean “brands” that have printed two or three T-shirts with their “name” on and have no website, only a Facebook page. (which in some cases has been redundant for 3-5 years).

My question is this;

If I choose a name for example “True Love” clothing that has no intellectual property rights attached to its name or logo and has no following, yet does have a Facebook page. Where do I stand legally?

My artwork is potentially very valuable, the last thing I want to do is create a clothing brand which later becomes successful and is forced to change its name, due to a third-party dispute.

Any information that you have would be gratefully received.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2017 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi bradyb,

There are a number of different aspects - none of which involve copyright - to this. If you are sure that the name you would like to use has definitely not been registered as a trade mark (check the IPO website), then you would be wise to also check any 'similar' words, so taking your example, things like My True Love, True Blue Love and so on. Ideally you also need to check any proposed graphic as well (for instance it would not be a good idea to do your 'true love' logo in a script that mimics the Coca Cola logo), although checking graphic marks is tricky on the IPO website.

Once you have eliminated the possibility of infringement by using a similar mark to an existing registered mark, the next thing you need to consider is passing off. For this to apply, the other entity doesn't need to have registered their mark, but they do need to have existing goodwill in their brand. That would have to be something more substantial than a few friends on Facebook, and a little research should see if that is a real possibility: no mentions elsewhere, no reviews, no brand awareness amongst the buying public etc would all tend to suggest there is no goodwill, and so a claim for passing off can't get past first base.

The next two things to check are not necessarily showstoppers, but might hint at trouble in the future. The first is a check with Companies House to see the name you want has been registered there. Of course many companies have a registered name and a trading name which is different, so this may not throw up a duplicate clothing company. And the second thing to check is whether the words you want to use have been registered as a URL. I suggest you check as many formats (TrueLove, true_love, etc) and suffixes (, .com, .net, .eu etc) as you can think of. The way disputes over cybersquatting are sorted out tends to be slightly different to the rules for clashes over trade marks, or company names. There isn't room to go into the details here, but you can easily find the rules online.

Once all your checks come up negative, you would be well advised to register your chosen trade mark, if you can afford it, because this could effectively lock out any would-be competitors. They can challenge your application, but at least that lets you know if there is any actual opposition out there, at an early stage. The IPO website has an easy-to-follow guide on how to register.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi AndyJ,

Thanks for your prompt response, the information that you provided was very informative.

Based on your advice i have decided to change the proposed name of my company.

This came down to finding an existing company with a fair following on Facebook which could be justified as passing off. Secondly, there is already a website domain with the same name under construction. I have therefore decided to go back to the drawing board.

I have lots of great artwork, ideas and a solid business plan, all i am missing is a name. I am sure that i will find the missing piece of the puzzle.

Thanks, once again.

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