Businesses register their names at a state level, so coming across another business with the same name in another state is not necessarily something for company owners to feel surprised or worried about. However, when there is a risk of one company’s business practices or reputation damaging the other because of online content, the name may suddenly become a serious issue.
In fact, according to Small Business Trends, 90% of internet shoppers will take their business elsewhere if they find that a company has a bad online reputation.
A business owner may begin by gathering paperwork such as the business license registration, trademark papers and any other evidence that the company has been doing business under that name and for how long. Even if there is no official trademark, the business may have options for keeping the name and disputing the other company’s right to use it.
If initial contact with the other company does not result in a resolution, then an official cease and desist letter may do the job. If not, a lawsuit may be the next step.
The resulting multijurisdictional litigation is often complex. Litigation involving more than one jurisdiction can affect an intellectual property case when an attorney does not have a license to practice in one or more of the parties’ locations. The American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct 5.5(c)(1) notes that the solution may be to provide legal services in cooperation with an attorney with a license to practice in that location.
Although complexity indicates complications, the National Center for State Courts explains that when it comes to litigation, complex refers to the need for intensive judicial management due to one or more of the following:
- Multiple parties
- Multiple attorneys
- Plaintiffs and defendants in geographically diverse locations
- Many expert witnesses
- Complex subject matter
- Extensive discovery
- Complex damage determinations
A trademark dispute that spans state lines may involve any or all of these factors.