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Protecting Your Trademark

Keep another company from stealing your pending trademarked name without spending a dime.

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This story appears in the September 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Q: I own a state , and the U.S. trademark for the same name is pending. Recently, a started using my exact business name, but in the plural form. I do not have money for . What should I do?

A: Since you can't afford legal fees, you probably shouldn't threaten the offending party with a lawsuit. But there are things you can do. First, learn all you can about this company. Find out if it has a website. Do some searching online at D&B and at the online versions of business and trade publications and newspapers. You may discover that the company is completely different than your own--and because the law allows noncompeting products and services to use the same name (think Ford Motor Co. and Ford Gum Co.), you actually have no dispute.

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