Small business. Name dispute

I’ve recently opened up a small business on Etsy selling crystals:  I also opened up an Instagram with the same name as my Etsy. A lady on Instagram contacted me to say because her Instagram business name started with the same reiki term as my shop starts with (it’s a reiki chakra) but hers  does not contain the word  crystals after the first word, our instagrams just begin with the same reiki term.

She said that  people may get confused if they search for her and vice verse. She went onto rhyme off 3 other Instagram businesses she runs that included a psychic reading page and tarot card page and asked if I was aware she runs them? Neither contain any words that my Etsy or Instagram are called.  She then went onto sat she’s been working with Archangel Michael and Raphael since 2010 and the term we both use at the start of our Instagram/Etsy names, has grown with her business.

She then messaged again to say she owns a crystals page. I searched and an Instagram and Facebook page do come up but it’s based in Washington US. They have the same name as me but I have UK. They have an Instagram and Fecebook community of about 6k followers but no actual shop online from what I see so they sell on those social media platforms. I felt quite confused as she’s based in Norrhern England and her name doesn’t match those people who run the business in Washington US.

As my business is spaced out differently (theirs is all one word) and I have UK on the end and they in the US,  do I need to be concerned? This lady in England has told me I should change my name as it may get confused with her other businesses which aren’t called anything like mine but her one Instagram page she messaged me off which offers reiki healing and does have the same first word as mine, She thinks people will get us confused but I highly doubt it and it doesn’t look like she owns the US page she mentions that is of the same name as mine.

My husband did some searching and he said yes obviously it’s the same name but you do have UK. No UK companies have the same name registered but he found that many companies start with the same name as her reiki healing Instagram and website and my crystal Etsy so this lady can’t really say the word we both us has grown with her business only. The Instagram/Facebook shop in US I guess could get annoyed I’ve the same name but with the UK added to it, but I did a company search before choosing and nothing came up until this lady pointed out that there is an American Instagram and Facebook store with the same name.

Sorry  this got so long, but what should I do? Am I in the wrong?  I don’t think this lady owns Crystals page the same as my name in the US I think she’s more concerned that her Instagram may be confused with mine as we both start with the Sam wording. I’m a very new business just starting out, it may not take off but I’ve put a lot of work into this. I feel so deflated.

Thank you.

Replies

  • pramsay13pramsay13 Forumite
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    There are a lot of ifs, buts, and maybes.

    If it is a generic term that is linked to your business then you can use it.

    If it is a unique term that she is using and people will search for her and find you by mistake that is different.
  • LunaDLunaD Forumite
    3 Posts
    First Post
    It is the term Soulstar which is a reiki chakra. Both our Instagram pages start with Soulstar. To be more accurate. I wasn’t aware of the American shop with the same name but I have UK on the end of my shop name.
  • martindowmartindow Forumite
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    These things always come from the USA.  The problem is that these things can escalate and if they contact Etsy or Instagram or whoever hosts a website there is a real possibility they will just close your account or shut a website down which would be disastrous.
    As you have not been set up too long I would be inclined to change sooner rather than later.  A friend had a similar issue regarding a product rather than the website name.  An American claimed to have rights to this name although it is fairly generic and contacted several UK people who were selling this threatening to contact their ISPs.  Some ISPs said that if they received a letter threatening legal action they would remove the sites or at least suspend them rather than get involved in expensive international cases.  Everyone renamed the products.
  • Mistral001Mistral001 Forumite
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    If you were selling through a bricks and mortar shop, then the fact that you are in the UK and the other seller is in the USA would be significant, but because you are selling online, it is irrelevant which country you are in.  If people are looking for the American business online and find your business instead, then the American business will be losing business due to your business having a similar name to theirs.  There could be an argument over whether the name is generic or not, but it is one you might lose once the lawyers get involved, so as Martindow has said, I would change the name as soon as you can.
  • rach_krach_k Forumite
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    I wouldn't worry about people getting confused.  On Etsy and social media, lots of people and businesses have similar names.  People are used to this and will pay attention if they're looking for a particular one.  If they're not looking for her (or you), then it doesn't matter which they find first!  She might not like it but when I type Soulstar into Etsy, a whole page of results comes up.  When I type it into Instagram, loads come up.  If they're looking for her, they'll still find her with your one extra name on the list.  

    That said, does she have a decent following?  I would worry that she might get vicious!  People can get crazy online and whip up their followers into targeting people they feel have treated them unfairly.  Would it cost much to change or modify your name?  Could you add a word in front of the shared term?  You'll still come up in the same searches but you'll have shown willing at least.  
  • Grumpy_chapGrumpy_chap Forumite
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    Is it that worth worrying about if you have not been trading long?  Put your efforts into building your own, unique brand ( with a different name) and avoid the risk of future issues.  As much as the other company think you are trading off their reputation, the risk is also the other way that suddenly the other company hits global news with some scandal and you are then pulled down by them with no control over the situation.

    These things don't just affect the 'little lads and lasses'.  Elon Musk recently failed to launch the "Model E" car because Ford registered the name despite having never used it.
  • martindowmartindow Forumite
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    There was a case of a south Wales  carpenter called Roger Virgin who received a threatening letter from Branson's organisation despite have traded for many years and having the name Virgin all of his life.
    I'm not sure how this played out.
    In his shoes I would be horrified if I thought I might be associated with them ...

  • SoniaFraserSoniaFraser Forumite
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    I think you should ignore her opinion and do what you want.
  • SandtreeSandtree Forumite
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    It would have been much easier if you had simply given your trading name and hers but still.

    Your main risk is that hosting companies, social media etc simply don't want to get involved in arguments over IP and therefore if she does lodge a complaint/send them a cease & desist letter then they are fairly likely to close your accounts. As such, given you say you are newly established it may be worth considering rebranding now when the pain is small rather than potentially logging in in a years time and finding everythings been closed.

    Arguing IP rights in the real world is much more expensive and time consuming so where it to shops battling it out it would probably go to the person with the deepest pockets but online the world is different.

    I once also got caught up in a brand name dispute but it all worked out rather well for me as I had permission from a UK trademark holder to use their mark within my website's URL but a USA trademark holder took exception to it and turned out the two companies had been locked in legal battle for years so the USA company offered me monies to surrender the domain to them, the UK company then counter offered and I went laughing all the way to the bank.
  • edited 2 October 2020 at 11:30AM
    JulianSpringerJulianSpringer Forumite
    6 Posts
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    edited 2 October 2020 at 11:30AM
    All these first problems when creating an online business are very annoying! I remember that when I started my business, I also argued with one company because they thought that we stole their name. We solved this problem for 2 months and everything almost went to court. Thank God everything was decided in my favor. Now after the coronavirus, I also have quite a lot of problems because sales have fallen and we are losing customers. So we have to advertise our products again on San Diego best offers. 2 years ago, we also published our business there and a lot of new customers came to us. I hope this time will not be worse!
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