Issue With My Business Name

Hi Tom,

I have started a pet sitting business.  I had my accountant register me with the Man and got my tax ID #.  I naively thought that this meant no one else had my name.  However, there is another company in this area that has a very similar name.  My accountant and I have submitted an application for a service mark and are waiting to hear back.  

Personally, I would rather not "steal" someone else's name but I am rather fond of my name/logo.  If this company has not service marked their name and I am able to do so, would you recommend that I keep my name?  I understand that our names/websites may get mixed up which could be good or bad.  But I have already had two or three other people in the business comment to me that there is another company with my name.  I just don't want any bad blood.  Plus, it is possible that in the future I may want to develop my own line of environmental enrichment toys for pets (to keep them busy while you're at work).  Any thoughts?

Diane Zahorodny
Watch Dogs  - Professional Pet Care and Photography
PO Box 824
Warrenville, IL 60555
(630) 730-3401

This is a great question.  Here are my thoughts:

First of all, you are not stealing anyone's name.  If you were aware of the name, and then named your company that anyways, that would be stealing.  Additionally, if they haven't trade marked or service marked the name, technically, they don't own it.  You can't steal something someone doesn't own.  Having said all of that, if you do get the service mark, you have the right to make them change their name.  My recommendation is that you wait to hear back on the status of your service mark, and then decide how you want to proceed.

The key thing here is that you want a name that you own, because as you build your company and your brand, you want to make sure you are protected.  A lot of time, energy and money go into building a brand, and you don't want people confusing your company with another one.  Another thing that you want to consider is what products and/or services you plan on introducing in the future.  Ask yourself if your name is going to make sense for these products and services, as well as what you are doing now.

I hope that helps!  If you need further clarification, or have more questions, please let me know.

Thanks again for your question!