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Some joker has set up a business using my trading name - any recourse?

jimthistle73 14 2.4k 1 United Kingdom
1 Apr 2012 11:57PM
It seems there's a chap trading in Preston as Emerson Photography - he's not doing much with his site which basically has the same URL as mine, but with a hyphen between emerson and photography. Looks like small scale commercial stuff but i do worry there might come a point when he begins to get busier. I've been using Emerson Photography since 2005 and own the .co.uk domain name as well as a few variants but can't afford to squat on every variation!

I contacted him just to sound him out (nice, civilised email) and he's just come back to me saying, "...I didn't check if there were others because essentially my website is just an online portfolio". He's touting for business using the site, and I don't know what to make of that really. And also, "...Obviously I chose the name because my name is actually Emerson so didn't think
twice about not doing!"

There are many other emersonphotographys out there but all are prefixed with a forename, or else based abroad, so confusion isn't likely to arise. Just a bit annoyed that this guy didn't do the sensible thing and Google his chosen trading name before setting up. Is there anything I can do?

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janeez Plus
9 1.8k 8 United Kingdom
2 Apr 2012 1:09AM
I know a few years ago my brother managed to get a company to change its name as it was virtually the same as his and the same line of business. I think you need to prove how long you have been trading. Try your local authority first and it may be Companies House (if they still exist!) that will deal with it.
jimthistle73 14 2.4k 1 United Kingdom
2 Apr 2012 1:38AM
Thanks for that - I can certainly prove I was in business first and will look into it....
2 Apr 2012 7:30AM
i did a course when i left the navy and i was informed by them that if i wanted to call business AJ PHOTOGRAPHY, that it didn't matter if there were more of that name as long as it was not in the same area as it was my name as well, but i was told that problem would be when i set up a website, if they owned all they domain names, but if the others only owned the .net .org .com, i would be fully entitled to used the .co.uk.

The course was a business start up course, so was aimed at things like that. If they are in your area, taking business away from you and using a name almost the same, then you will have a case, but there may be nothing that can be done if they are not.
keithh Plus
14 25.4k 33 Wallis And Futuna
2 Apr 2012 7:46AM
There a plenty of businesses with the same name. How many hairdressers are called The Head Quarters etc.

There was a kid in Scotland using Northscape Photography and his website hyphenated the North and Scape. No idea if he's still going.
2 Apr 2012 7:47AM
you may have a case under this Passing off .

Easier to deal with now rather than later though, what if he is getting work because people are associating him with you? Or if he gives a bad service and people associate him with you?!
CathyT 12 7.3k 18 United Kingdom
2 Apr 2012 8:47AM
Maddies ex and my hubby had the same business trade name Advance Plumbing and Heating and Advanced Plumbing and Heating ......neither of us new each other then....small world.
pabloisme 8 566 England
2 Apr 2012 8:49AM
well as you both have multiple web site's yours forwards to http://jamieemersonphotography.com/

and his does similar to http://emerson-photography.com/

with domain names it is a first come first served set up, so
a, you should have bagged all the options when you bought your 2 (maybe more?)
1, if you did it off your own back then it's a case of maybe regretting not getting or paying for domain name advice (not many do, BUT may have been a good idea?)
2, if you took and paid for advice then sue the advisor.

b, use the seo to greater advantage to out weigh him the other site's owner because there is....
c, not a lot you can do, there is a dispute resolution service for both .co.uk and .com BUT I highly doubt wether you will win with what you have told us! so
d, you will have to live with it

passing off is difficult to apply here, UNLESS you have trademarked the name / names, so I assume NOT?

he may be a small trader, sole trader, as you may be, say fred bogiss "Trading As" emerson photography = not illegal. he may live on emerson street, may be his grannies name, 1001 reasons.

however I have delt with some cases where it has been registered to gain a financial advantage, here my advice is
if its cheap pay it, they will get bored paying the renwals, but dont lose sleep...........

there is a joker (ok a lot) who hijacks (a) the name and redirects it to a competitor

a good misspelling (for advantage) ploy is lidl.co.uk MISSPELLED TO lidel.co.uk I bet a lot do this?
redirects to tesco.com neat eh BUT the company either wont do the legals or dont care? this is probably unlawful

so you aint so bad off eh?
njsmith 13 85 United Kingdom
2 Apr 2012 10:06AM

Quote: I've been using Emerson Photography since 2005 and own the .co.uk domain name as well as a few variants but can't afford to squat on every variation!

Hi Jim,

I'm sorry to say but I think you'll find you do not own your co.uk domains you're only licenesed to use them by Nominet as long as you use them correctly. A little like a Private Registration mark on a car.
I read an article along time ago where Business (1) registred a domain soley to prevent business (2) using it. Business (1) did not activily use the domain so Business (1) complained to Nominet and Nominet removed Business (1) licence and prevented Business (1) using it.

If the other business is using a domain name similar to yours with the intention of taking business from you Nominet (in the UK) may be able to assist you.

User_Removed 8 4.6k 1 Scotland
2 Apr 2012 10:49AM
There used to be a legal requirement to register business names with (strangely) the Registrar of Business Names. This disappeared in the bonfire of red tape round about the mid-80s.

You now only have recourse against the guy if you can convince a Court that he is using the name fraudulently with a view to stealing your business. Very difficult to prove even if it is true. And virtually impossible to make stick if his name is actually Emerson and his activity is actually photography.

Using a hyphen in a domain name is a very common and perfectly acceptable way of registering a domain if a similar one has already been taken. (and also to separate words because a space cannot be used - one of my domain names is www.premier-pages.co.uk for that very reason.)

Carabosse 15 41.1k 270 England
2 Apr 2012 10:58AM
This is why businesses often buy up every possible domain name which is remotely like their own - and even buy domains, often at inflated prices, from others who already own them.
MeanGreeny 12 3.7k England
2 Apr 2012 11:04AM
I think all you've done here is get his website to the top of the Google searches through opening this thread [check it out - I did].

Look on the bright side - if he's better than you, you might get some of HIS business Smile

I'm not helping am I?
jimthistle73 14 2.4k 1 United Kingdom
2 Apr 2012 11:28AM
Lol at MeanGreeny! And Nick, yes, I'm aware that I don't actually OWN the domain names, but it's quicker to type, innit! Thanks for all the replies. I'm not particularly worried that this guy will steal business from me - it's clear he's just getting set up and he doesn't make a big deal out of shooting weddings which is my bread and butter.

It just irks me that he didn't do his homework before choosing a name for his business, and there is the possibility that if he continues working in photography, there might be some confusion further down the line.
digicammad 15 22.0k 39 United Kingdom
2 Apr 2012 11:38AM
I know it's frustrating Jamie but if he does have the same name as you it sounds more like a coincidence than any malicious intent.

He may well end up with some search traffic ending at his site, but if it is just a portfolio and not well optimised there is little chance of that. You need to keep your SEO up, get those inbound links working for you. Also, if your site is older Google will rate it higher anyway.

I wouldn't even bother putting a notice up to say you are nothing to do with him, all that will do is draw attention (and search engine traffic) to his site.

At least you live a decent distance apart. Smile

ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
2 Apr 2012 11:53AM

Quote:I'm sorry to say but I think you'll find you do not own your co.uk domains you're only licenesed to use them

....was it just me who read this in the "monty python accountant" voice ?


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