In recent years some companies have been involved in legal disputes regarding breaching copyright. While you may laugh at a small business with a name punning on a multinational, there are some issues that could potentially come with this, and which is why these claims may be more complicated than you may initially think.

Do your research
A simple way of avoiding issues regarding copyright is to search for your potential business or product name online. Government websites will allow you to check this so that you can be sure that the name you come up with does not clash with any existing copyrights.

In some cases, it may be that the name is dormant or the company has ceased trading, in which case you could use it. Another possibility is you could discuss purchasing this from another company, though this will depend on the size of the business. In both situations, it is best to seek legal proceedings before you begin making a claim.

Another aspect to be aware of is slogans. A company may use a slogan such as “We bring sunshine in the glass.” What this would mean is that you could not call your company “We bring sunshine in the glass” as naming your business after that slogan would breach that copyright.

Another thing to be aware of is a potentially offensive name. This may sound obvious, but even inferring an illegal activity could potentially get you in trouble, so it is important to check this before setting up a company. Furthermore, from a PR point of view, it can be damaging if it feels you are excluding potential customers.

Potential punishments
If it is found that you have used an IP that is not yours, then you could be told to cease and desist, often with an official letter from a legal representative. There is the risk of paying damages to the affected company, and in some cases, it may be considered a criminal offence. On top of this, if customers feel you are trying to cash in on a more established rival, this could affect the reputation of your business.

Likewise, you may wish to protect your company by trademarking your name. This will depend on whether or not it is available, it specifically relates to the product or service that you offer and that it is not considered deceptive or morally wrong. It does cost a fee in order to register your business or product, but it can offer legal protection.

We can help
If you are concerned that your intellectual property is being exploited or you are involved in a dispute it can be a difficult time. Fortunately, Larcomes has the specialist legal team on board that can give you the representation that you need. We can provide both the resources and the customer service to help you through the legal process. If you would like to know more and to discuss your situation in more detail, please contact us today.