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I finally came up with a good name for my game studio, however after searching for it there appears to be another game company with the same/very similar name. They were founded this year, have an empty website with only a logo and no published games (at least I couldn't find any).

Normally I wouldn't bother, but the company is from US and I live in EU and as far as I know company names are protected only in specific regions, so for example it's possible for two restaurants with the same name to exist in different cities. However, I'm not sure if this is applicable to game studios, which aren't operating in specific countries - if I publish a game on some platform it will be visible everywhere, same for the other company.

I'm also not sure if the other comapny is even registered, doing a quick search here didn't yield any results. Assuming it's not, how does it change my situation? Is this the proper way to check if it's registered?

EDIT: It turns out this comapny is registered, but only in California.

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This is a jurisdictional question. To summarize: United States jurisdiction extends only over the United States. Under the sovereign state doctrine (state in this meaning is country) each country makes rules applicable only to them. Example: if you are a United States citizen and you violate a Saudi Arabian law (while being in there), you will be punished according to their laws.

Lets say you trademark your company name in UK, and UK has laws against copyright infringement. Then, when the game company from United States tries to sell in UK, you can pursue action in court.

Now, I bet it is tempting to say the same must apply for you in the U.S. Not so. "State" has a special meaning in the United States. Each state is sovereign. Each state has their own copyright laws along within their own jurisdiction. Lets say the company is registered only in California. Nothing is stopping you from registering the same company name in New York. As long as you are willing to pay new York Taxes that is. It is interesting to note the different level of jurisdictional interplay in something as simple as McDonalds logo. http://eskify.com/10-interesting-mcdonalds-lawsuits/

There is another catch to this as well. Interstate commerce. Once you sell to more then one state,( or have national presence as an online store) you may register your company on a federal level.

In the end everything comes down to the facts, who, how, when and where. Further research will reveal the answers. (Please note that the logo is trademarked separately.)

  • "United States jurisdiction extends only over the United States" this is at odds with the reality of the United States' massive efforts over the years to apply its jurisdiction to all countries. See - trade agreements, extradition treaties, specific cases like Kim Dotcom, etc. In short, there're very few sure bets when it comes to countries where the US can't become a major PITA for you if it decides it wants to. – TylerH Dec 5 '18 at 16:28
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I can't answer this for all of Europe, but in the UK you can pick your company name as long as it cannot be confused with the name of another UK company (and some other rules, like you cannot name it Her Royal Majesty's Game Studio).

Both companies may want to register trademarks, and if they register a trademark in the USA that you registered in the EU, then they cannot use their trademark in the EU, and you can't use yours in the USA. You can register your trademark in the USA if you're quicker.

When you try to register a trademark in the USA, anyone with a valid interest can protest against it. If they notice the registration, they will most likely succeed if they object. If they don't notice – well, that's tough for them. I wouldn't say it's impossible to overcome your trademark, but it would be hard.

  • So if I register the name as a trademark in the US right now the other company is pretty much screwed and can't use their name to publish games for US audience? – Wojtek Wencel Dec 1 '18 at 19:37

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