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susanwilliams

Company Name Ownership

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10 employees work for a company using a legal name of "Cleaning Services of Albany Inc". The company also uses the name of "Cleaning Services by Dan" on their Vans, invoices and quotes but this name is not registered to them by the Secretary of State.  6 of the employees are unhappy with management and they would like to start their own Cleaning Company.  They have not signed any non-compete agreements.  They find out that Cleaning Services by Dan is available so they reserve, then register the name with the Secretary of State.  They appoint their Directors for their company and resign from their employer's company.  They reach out to past customers and tell them they are Cleaning Services by Dan, but a new company that is not affiliated with Cleaning Services of Albany Inc. and start acquiring their business under their new contracts.  Are these employees performing an illegal act by doing this?  Can their past employer make them cease and desist performing these actions?  Can "Cleaning Services of Albany Inc." demand that the ex-employees discontinue ownership of "Cleaning Services by Dan" so "Cleaning Services of Albany Inc." can buy this name from the Secretary of State and use it for themselves.  Thanks.

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35 minutes ago, susanwilliams said:

Are these employees performing an illegal act by doing this?

 

Yes.

 

Trademark infringement.

 

Lack of registration with the state's doesn't eliminated Dan's trademark rights under federal trademark law.

 

36 minutes ago, susanwilliams said:

Can their past employer make them cease and desist performing these actions?

 

Yes.

 

And can sue them successfully for a lot of money.

 

37 minutes ago, susanwilliams said:

Can "Cleaning Services of Albany Inc." demand that the ex-employees discontinue ownership of "Cleaning Services by Dan"

 

Yes.

 

The last phrase of that question is irrelevant.

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The question I think you may really be asking is whether it matters that the name is not a registered trademark (either at the state or at the federal level).  Even if it is not a registered trademark, it can still be a trademark.  Registration of a trademark gives the registrant additional rights and remedies that the holder of an unregistered trademark wouldn't have, but the holder of an unregistered trademark still has some legal rights and remedies to prevent misuse of the mark by others and to recover damages from others based on misuse of the mark.

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11 hours ago, susanwilliams said:

Even if the name is not trademarked?  Thank you!

The name is trademarked. Using the naame to conduct business makes the name a trademark.  Your question should be "Even if the trademark is not registered."    The answer is: registration of  trademark is not necessary to make it a valid and enforceable trademark.  Seriously, you would not have used your former employer's name and client list is you didn't believe you would be taking away the former employer's business.  That is illegal (not to mention unfair).

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