Similar names, similar fields -- still OK?
May 15, 2007 10:45 AM   Subscribe

I'm working on a portfolio site that will collect my work in a particular realm and serve as the front for that side of my career. I had planned to use a domain I've owned and marginally used for several years. It struck me that I should check on whether there are other companies with a similar name...

What I discovered was that not only is there a company with a very similar name -- [Blank Blank] Media vs. my [Blank Blank] Communications -- but it's a bigger player in the same field as me, although with a different business model (publisher vs. contractor).

I've had my site up, with the [Blank Blank] Communications name on it, since 2003, while this competitor formed just last year. However they're much higher profile (my site's been dormant since about the time they launched) and, you know, an actual company instead of just an unofficial DBA. Complicating matters (or maybe not) is the fact that this other company's website is currently down, and one of its high-profile founding partners just left. Some of the company's properties no longer list it as the owner, instead just listing the remaining partner. So the name may be being abandoned, but without checking with them it's hard to know.

So here's my dilemma. Can I get away with a disclaimer on my site stating that I have no connection to the other company, or should I steer clear altogether and find a new name? Or is the Media/Communications difference big enough that it doesn't matter?
posted by me3dia to Work & Money (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've seen disputes arise over far more distant similarities.

Since it sounds like you have minimal time invested so far in establishing and promoting the name, I would suggest letting it go and finding a unique one.

Advantages of this include not having to spend your time being concerned about legal action from a deeper-pocketed company, being easily Googleable and -- well -- not being confused with the existing company (this works both ways).
posted by allterrainbrain at 12:09 PM on May 15, 2007

Find a new name. You're just asking for trouble to stay with one which is similiar to a potential competitor.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:34 PM on May 15, 2007

IANAL and all that, but you don't have anything to worry about if it's not trademarked. I went through something sorta similar a year ago where a company wanted a domain I've had for a long time because they started a business that used that word. They had lawyers emailing me for about 6mos with ICANN/WIPO threats and the whole 9 yards. None of it was of consequence and I never received anything printed on paper.

Plus, "Foo Bar Communications/Media" is quite generic. To counter the "don't hassle" suggestions above, be sure to navigate your browser to "" for an illustration of my stance.
posted by rhizome at 2:02 PM on May 15, 2007

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