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I have purchased the company name Xxxxx Media in a province in Canada, but I recently realized that the product Xxxxx® is trademarked in the United States. I wish to sell my products in the US soon so I am wondering if I should purchase a different name instead so that I do not get sued by the company who has trademarked Xxxxx®. Will I get sued?

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    Welcome! Thanks for listing the jurisdictions involved, but the answer to your question also depends on the similarity between what you want to sell and what they're selling. – David Thornley Jan 18 at 16:35
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First of all, anyone can sue for more or less anything, with a good case or without. We have no possible way to predict who will sue or for what. What we might be able to predict is whether in certain circumstances a suit has plausible legal merit, and if someone filed such a suit, there would be a reasonable chance of winning it. Even that often depends on detailed facts which cannot be discussed or addressed here.

Trademark protection is limited in several ways.

First of all, trademark protection is limited by country. Each country has a different set of trademark laws, and a different mechanism for registering trademarks or determining which marks are protected, although there are many similarities. If a mark is protected in the US, that does not give grounds for suit in Canada, although if Canadian products or services are sold into the US, there could be a suit there.

Secondly, trademarks are protected for specific industries or kinds of products/services. for example, "Bass Ale" is a well-known trademark for a beverage. But that does not mean that "Bass Media" used to identify a media company, would infringe that mark, because a drink and a media company are very different things, and one would not be likely to be confused with the other.

Thirdly, some marks are "descriptive" while others are "distinctive" or "original". For example, "Tasty burgers" is descriptive. It describes the product (or claims to, at least). "Quadzos Burgers" is original. It is a coined word that has no meaning except to name this product. Original marks get significantly stronger protection than descriptive marks.

Fourthly, Trademarks only protect against uses in trade, or in commerce. If you are not selling anything, or doing business using a mark, you are probably not infringing that mark's protection.

Finally, and most important, the key question is whether a reasonable person in the market would be confused into thinking that the alleged infringer is the same as the maker of the goods or services named by the mark, or is endorsed or approved by that maker. Trademark protection is supposed to prevent one person or firm from benefiting by the reputation and good will of a product or firm with which they have no connection, from, in effect, falsely advertising "I am the same as those guys". If no reasonable person will be confused, then there is probably no infringement. If reasonable people might well be confused, there might well be infringement.

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