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Company names and legal issues

10305 Views 9 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  virginco
Hey everyone,
Like many others I am new in the T-shirt business. I've been soaking up info off of this awesome forum and now I must pose a question.
My first idea for a company name was Virgin Apparel Company. I did as much research as I could and found no other such companies. So I decided to use this name. However I am currently reconsidering this choice due to "virgin" being a widely used company and thus being unoriginal and surrounded by legal danger. Does the legal stuff constitute a name change? I am very fond of my logo and would prefer not to change my company name. Is it better to go ahead and do it since I'm just starting out? I know its more about the t-shirt designs anyway but I want to be happy and comfortable with my company name so that I can move on. My work is artistically oriented and the logo comes up often in shirt design. It's not just what people hear and see on a website its all over the clothes themselves. Sorry to blabber and thanks for looking.
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Yea I would be pretty cautious with that one. If you look here Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), you will see that Virgin has apparel, one specific item naming tshirts as one of the items they sell, so you would be very likely to get into trouble with this one. The reason being is that virgin apparel would easily be confused with virgin, and both selling similar products.

Hope this helps.
You may want to consider another name. When we picked ours, we went for something that could be marketed to EVERYONE, gangster rappers, hipsters, eco companies, political organizations, schools, churches, death metal bands, etc. You don't want to alienate anyone with your name, you want your name to be accessible and unoffensive, not that Virgin is, but it does carry some weight and connotations. I've seen a couple companies called "Nightmare..." followed by whatever it is they do, "...Graphics, Screen Printing", and we have a customer called "Bad Art Clothing". If I was the shopper, I would pass 'Nightmare Apparel' in the phone book and move on to 'Smiley Happy People Apparel'.

Now I am not talking smack about our customer, or these other companies, but our feeling is that you want your name to be supreme, you want people to remember it, you want it to be progressive, and you don't want to alienate anyone. Your name is your primary identifier and you need to feel comfortable presenting it to everyone.

This is a ramble, but consider this when picking the name. What do people think of when they think of "Virgin" and are you comfortable with that? Will you be able to sell to everyone?
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I agree with Sunny and Dan points of view.

Maybe you can find something else to use, that will give you whatever it is about the word Virgin that drew you in? What is the *feel* or vibe you got from it? What does it relay about your designs and your company?

If the Virgin is the music company, and they sell clothing, they could one day want to stop you if you become successful and they notice you. I didn't click on Sunny's link, but any large company with the name Virgin that also sells apparel usually will have some folks on retainer looking for new start ups to squash who use the name.

I hear Life is Good (shirt company) tried to stop LG (refrigerators, tv's, etc) from using "Life's Good".

That is very much how it can be in business. Whatever made you stop, hesitate and question the name choice early on is something inside of you that is good business sense.

It is easier to change now, and cheaper if you don't have to fight someone, than it would be later.
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Ok apparently the link timed out :) But it is from Virgin records/air and they also have apparel such as t-shirts listed. So their trademark pretty much covers alot even though they are a music company and transportation company. Their trademark is just Virgin, it doesnt have an extension such as record or air affiliated in the name. So I would think with them just using the word Virgin, and then listing all the items they are in business for would, covers them pretty well.
Thanks for all your input. For me the motivation for behind the name was just simply the fact that I really like to draw it. This may seem rediculous but when I find a word that works its easy to make it look good and consequently hard to let go of. Also my name will be one word and around seven letters long. So there is not a huge supply of reasonable names. But I have a couple in mind. Thanks again for your input. I think I'll jump on the name change now.
Well, good luck to you... I hope you find another gem of a name that you like as much. (PS: I always check my state's registered corporation name site, as well as the .com, to see if both are available before settling on a name.)
I just got back from my lawyer today and I asked him a very similar question. What I was told is as a small business owner you have to be very careful with the name you choose. Because, whether it is technically legal or not, there are bigger corporations that may sue you to just stop you from using the name, regardless of whether they are in the same category or if the names are exactly the same. So sometimes it can be advantageous to select a more unique name or even make up something rather than pick something too common. It is also recommended that you do a full name search prior to selecting your name just to make sure no one out there is using it.

Just off the top of my head I immediately thought of Virgin records also. You would not want to be caught in a lawsuit with them. Unless you are a multi multi millionaire they would probably bankrupt you.
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My first idea for a company name was Virgin Apparel Company. I did as much research as I could and found no other such companies.
If you're not joking or trolling, then I should tell you that the clothing company "Virgin Threads" has already been and gone. Virgin Records pounded them into the ground about three years ago. So, probably time for a new company name, and maybe get someone else to research this one for you.
Thanks for the replies guys. I have made the obvious decision to change my name. Thanks for all your input.
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