Names can't be copyrighted, but they can be trademarked.
IF the other site's name is trademarked, and if it's very similar, and if you are selling similar products or providing information of the same type, you could have a problem.
As a first step, check their site. Do they say anywhere that their name is trademarked? If they do, you have a choice. You can wait for them to come after you, or you can change your name now.
|I plan on my site being completely different |
In that case you shouldn't worry, unless the other company has trademakred their domain and if they'll want to be anal about it.
Well I did just find this on their website:
"TRADEMARKS. (examples) and other section titles are trademarks of Example, Inc. Other product and company names mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners. "
Their main domain is example.com but they have their main forum section located at [forums.example.com...] Mine is set to be www.exampleforums.com.
I must correct myself when I said my site would be completely different. I do plan on creating a message board system and of course some of the content (topics and such) may be similiar to the one at [forums.example.com...]
[edited by: rogerd at 10:02 pm (utc) on Mar. 8, 2006]
[edit reason] specifics removed & URLs examplified [/edit]
I realize it's hard to have this conversation without specifics, but the moderators do not allow URLs to be posted (see your post 1).
Anyway, it does appear to me that the 2 sites will share significant similarities in name and purpose. Even though "firehouse" is a generic English word in itself, I would choose a different name to avoid confusion and possible legal threats.
thanks - sorry I didnt know about not posting URLs here (Im new here) Does the same go with all boards on this site?
Anyway, I chose to change the name of the site - called my hosting company today and since it was only a week ago since I purchased it they went ahead with the new name for me
If they have trademarked those names, you would probably have little trouble getting the trademarks thrown out.
The problem is that the domain name is a generic term if you are dealing with firefighters. It would not be so generic if you were dealing with a hot sauce company.
An example of this would be Amazon.com. You can get at least a weak trademark on a bookstore called Amazon, but you should not be able to get a trademark on the name Amazon if you rent boats on the Amazon River. If the word or term is generic to the business, then they should not grant the mark.
You can look up the status of the trademarks at [uspto.gov...]
You also want to read the trademark information carefully. Sometimes the trademark is on their logo, and not the word or name itself. An example of this is Best Buy. Their name is too generic to get a mark, but they do have their big yellow tage that says "Best Buy" trademarked.
"Does the same go with all boards on this site? "
Yes but its not hard to work around. Just use generic terms. For your case you could say you bought widgetforums.com but someone else already has forums.widgets.com.
Your situation looks to be a tough call. While they post that they have trademarked their site name, they may not be able to if it is too generic. In your case, that seems pretty generic. I can't just go copyright paper.com and prevent anyone else from talking about paper or paper products. Now if I owned SuperDuperDogBisquits.com then you may have legal liabilities if you tried to start up SuperDuperDoggyBisquits.com since it is so close and not a common word or phrase.
I agree the trademark is not necessarily defensible, but they'd likely TRY to enforce it and Captain Ron would have to hire a lawyer and go to court and so forth. And he could still lose. Since the site only exists on the back of an envelope right now, I would still recommend going with a different name.
Anyway you've got to plan for success: What if Captain Ron's site became a huge success? He'd have neverending branding problems because of this other site. Not to mention other "firehouse" sites diluting the brand. Best to have a name that's bold and unique.