How could I prevent someone from using my business trade name? 4 Answers as of August 31, 2015

I have a business in which I have 50% partner (we've been in business for about 8 years). My partner decided to go ahead and open another business, exactly as the one we have, in another state, and he is using the same exact name without my authorization. In addition, he is trying to use the same advertising and marketing materials. Can he legally do that?

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Sebby Law Office
Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
If he is opening the business as part of your partnership, you would have a claim on the assets and proceeds from the business, even if you don't agree with his actions. However, if he's doing it on his own, there may not be much you can do since this is all happening in another state. You don't mention what the business does or whether it advertises or sells on the internet and that may influence what actions you can take.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 8/31/2015
Banner & Witcoff, Ltd. | Ernie Linek
Maybe he can, maybe he can't. Check your contract with your 50% partner. It may allow this situation - or it may be silent on this situation. ONLY if it says that this is forbidden can you likely stop him. You are BOTH owners of the business trade name - 50/50 - so you may not be able to stop this. Hire a good contract lawyer - trade names are tough to protect, as they are covered only by unfair competition laws.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 8/26/2015
Michael M. Ahmadshahi
Michael M. Ahmadshahi | Michael M. Ahmadshahi, Ph.D., Esq.
In his capacity as a 50% owner, he can open another office in another state but the revenues belong to the both of you because it is the same business.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/25/2015
Law Office of Kirk Buhler
Law Office of Kirk Buhler | Kirk A Buhler
If you have some agreement (or contract) that limits your partners ability to use the name then you could enforce the contract. My guess (from your question) is that no contract exists.Generally a partner with 1% own 100% of the rights to the name or invention. Your ex partner probably feels that they have the same rights of ownership you have to the name, advertising and marketing material (they may have contributed to this material in some part). File and receive a trademark for your business name. File for copyright protection on the materials you alone authored and created. Your partner is not breaking a law but they may be infringing on a contract or on your intellectual property that you individually created. If they had some part (even if it was small) in the creation of the advertising, name and marketing materials then they are a joint creator. They retain the rights unless it was "work-for-hire" or they assigned their rights to you.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/25/2015
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