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r6blacky

Original Poster:

212 posts

123 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
Anyone know anything about copyright and company names?

We set up a company February last year and today we've received an email from someone saying they have copyright on part of the name. They appear to have registered their company 9 months after ours?

For example our name is say ABC Printing Limited and the other company is ABC scaffolding ltd and he says he has copyright on the ABC part of the name

Thanks in advance

MrReg

1,648 posts

108 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
First thing I'd see is there's is with a space and yours without if that makes a difference?

r6blacky

Original Poster:

212 posts

123 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
The part of the name that is in question is the same.

Does the fact that we were registered first have any impact or are they just trying their luck?

Thanks

All that jazz

3,365 posts

32 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
r6blacky said:
Anyone know anything about copyright and company names?

We set up a company February last year and today we've received an email from someone saying they have copyright on part of the name. They appear to have registered their company 9 months after ours?

For example our name is say ABC Printing Limited and the other company is ABC scaffolding ltd and he says he has copyright on the ABC part of the name

Thanks in advance
Well known scam. File in the bin.

Simpo Two

59,991 posts

151 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
r6blacky said:
Does the fact that we were registered first have any impact...
Yes. It means you should be complaining to them!

Reply pointing out this fact.


I'm not sure that 'copyright' is the appropriate term either, so they clearly know nothing.

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r6blacky

Original Poster:

212 posts

123 months

[news] 
Friday 5th October 2012 quote quote all
Thanks for the responses so far.

I'm going to investigate this further today and as you say Copyright is probably not the correct term and we probably should be the ones complaining to them.

Will see how things develop but it's made me think perhaps we need to look at trademark ourselves.

jammy_basturd

11,086 posts

98 months

[news] 
Friday 5th October 2012 quote quote all
Simpo Two said:
I'm not sure that 'copyright' is the appropriate term either, so they clearly know nothing.
As Simpo says, you can't copyright a name:
http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/copy/c-about.htm

I'm pretty sure there was another PHer a few months back who had a very similar problem, with some company of a very similar name who'd set themselves up in either Ireland or America (can't remember which).

Is it a solicitors letter you've had?

I'm no legal bod or copyright expert, but I'd either ignore it or tell them to go do one!

r6blacky

Original Poster:

212 posts

123 months

[news] 
Friday 5th October 2012 quote quote all
We've just received an email (from the directors hotmail account) saying X is a copyrighted company name.

Tempted to simply ignore it but don't want it to rear its head again in the future.

Simpo Two

59,991 posts

151 months

[news] 
Friday 5th October 2012 quote quote all
r6blacky said:
from the directors hotmail account
Hotmail...! That tells you something of the cut of their jib.

I would reply, politely of course, to kill it off.




(You might also express surprise that a company of such stature and global significance can't manage a proper e-mail address...)


All that jazz

3,365 posts

32 months

[news] 
Friday 5th October 2012 quote quote all
Simpo Two said:
Hotmail...! That tells you something of the cut of their jib.
Indeed. Clearly my post yesterday at 8.03pm was ignored.

r6blacky

Original Poster:

212 posts

123 months

[news] 
Friday 5th October 2012 quote quote all
I haven't ignored your post at all, I'm simply looking for further comments or experience.

Thanks anyway.


All that jazz said:
Indeed. Clearly my post yesterday at 8.03pm was ignored.

bmthnick1981

4,316 posts

102 months

[news] 
Friday 5th October 2012 quote quote all
The date the company was registered is not in and of itself conclusive of who has the rights to use the name. They could have been trading for some time pre-incorporation as a sole trader and so could have built up goodwill in the name. If you then use that name or a similar you could be 'passing off' by using their name. Passing off is quite hard to prove, usually requires survey evidence etc so I wouldn't sweat up about it. Particularly given you've only had a couple of incorrect emails from their Hotmail account.

Copyright, trade marks, passing off and company names often get confused but I wouldn't take the current issue too seriously unless is escalates.

Simpo Two

59,991 posts

151 months

[news] 
Friday 5th October 2012 quote quote all
Have you googled to see if the other 'company' actually exists?

If they don't show up on Google, forget it as it's 100% scam as opposed to some misguided knucklehead in a Portakabin.

JustinP1

11,448 posts

116 months

[news] 
Friday 5th October 2012 quote quote all
All that jazz said:
Simpo Two said:
Hotmail...! That tells you something of the cut of their jib.
Indeed. Clearly my post yesterday at 8.03pm was ignored.
With respect, possibly right so.

They may not be using the correct language - but - if they have a registered trademark of which the OP is using even partially, and they are in the same field then the trademark holder may have legitimate grounds for asking the OP to cease using his name.

There are defences to this, such as if the OP gained a reputation for using the name previously - but if the trademark exists - which is checkable online, then it certainly isn't a scam or joke and needs advice as to the best way forward in terms of what his options are and if a compromise agreement can be sought.

LooneyTunes

3,509 posts

44 months

[news] 
Friday 5th October 2012 quote quote all
If the examples given in the OP are close to the actual situation, it suggests there's a good bit of distance between each of the company's markets and little chance of passing off.

The other consideration as Justin mentions is that they're not mentioning anything about "ABC" being a registered trademark. You can check at http://www.ipo.gov.uk/tm/t-find/t-find-text/ bear in mind that TMs only apply to the relevant classes listed against the mark itself.

Assuming there's no registered trademark I'd be tempted to tell them to take it up with Companies House...

If there is, then there it might get a bit more complicated but both CH and IPO recognise the issues that can exist when a reg'd company is obliged to use its full name yet a TM exists.

DS3R

971 posts

52 months

[news] 
Friday 5th October 2012 quote quote all
If they have registered the name as a trade mark then where they may have a legitimate case, they may be at risk of threatening you with registered trade mark infringement, which means you can take action against them yourself, even if they are in the right.

Here's what you should do;

Go to itma.org.uk and find a registered trade mark attorney close to you. Many work for big law firms, many are sole practitioners, many work for patent attorney firms. Just pick those closest to you, see what their websites say about giving a free consultation. In 30- 60 minutes which most should give without charge, you will probably find out if this complainant has any justification for whinging, and if you NEED to act (which is very different from HAVING to act). And if so, you can then decide if it warrants paying for further advice, which would probably entail a straightforward letter to them making their position clear.

Don't try and be an armchair IP expert, it's not worth the grief.

r6blacky

Original Poster:

212 posts

123 months

[news] 
Friday 5th October 2012 quote quote all
Thanks for all the responses.

I've checked on the IPO website and can't find any Trademark for the name (or part of) in question.


JustinP1

11,448 posts

116 months

[news] 
Friday 5th October 2012 quote quote all
r6blacky said:
Thanks for all the responses.

I've checked on the IPO website and can't find any Trademark for the name (or part of) in question.
That's a great start - and just to confirm, the other company carries on an entirely different trade which could never lead to your companies being confused?

r6blacky

Original Poster:

212 posts

123 months

[news] 
Friday 5th October 2012 quote quote all
We are IT software & Consultancy and the other company is Event Planning - so not likely to get confused.

They are still claiming to have copyright and TM - even if they do have a TM it would not be for the same class.

JustinP1

11,448 posts

116 months

[news] 
Friday 5th October 2012 quote quote all
r6blacky said:
We are IT software & Consultancy and the other company is Event Planning - so not likely to get confused.

They are still claiming to have copyright and TM - even if they do have a TM it would not be for the same class.
The words 'TM' after a word/name annotes that it is intended to be a mark of trade. It offers no protection, and essentially pointless as if you are using something as a mark of trade thats usually clear.

However, 'R' after the name indicates a registered trade mark. Thus, as well as having protection from 'passing off' - that is another party using your name to benefit - there is the separate issue of trade mark infringement which is much easier to prove and gives a much better chance of enforcement.

You could do one of two things here:

1) Employ a trade mark lawyer to rip them a new bumhole for a few hundred quid, or

2) Give them more rope to hang themselves with, and ask them to explain and show evidence to support their claims of 'copyright' in a name and trade mark.

That'll just make them sound more silly should things go further, and it may demonstrate to them through their own investigations that they are being silly.
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