Limited protection of a company name

Many companies seem to think that listing the company’s name in the commercial register at the Chamber of Commerce or having the internet domain provides sufficient protection against third parties from acting under a similar name. Unfortunately quite often that is not the case. A trademark registration on the other hand gives a better chance of claiming the company’s name exclusively.


Since 2015, home care organization “de Zonnestraal” has been providing home care services in the city of Tilburg. The corresponding domain name “homecare-dezonnestraal.nl” is used by them since 2016. In 2017, another provider called “De Zonnestraal” starts its operations in Hoofddorp, at the other side of The Netherlands, using the domain name “homecaredezonnestraal.com”.

The Tilburg company summons the new company to change its name because they are too much alike. The court decides that if a company operates only regionally, its registered trade name is only protected locally, not nationally, regardless of a national top level domain being used. Home care is a regional activity by definition. The cities Hoofddorp and Tilburg are 130 km apart, so chances of customers changing over are unrealistic.

The claim is rejected and the Tilburg company is ordered to pay the legal expenses also for the other party (€ 9,000). Lesson learnt: If you want nationwide exclusiveness, in order to expand to other regions, register a trademark for the company name.

 

tradenames



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PURE - MENTOS

MENTOS has been selling chewing gum under the name MENTOS PURE FRESH for several years. In order to protect her rights MENTOS has registered the following trademarks: the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH, the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH 3 and a figurative depiction of the word PURE. Defendant sells chewing gum under the trademark DENTYNE PURE and has registered its logo as a trademark. Infringement or not?