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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50148
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I run an online shop with a well known internet auction

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hello I run an online shop with a well known internet auction company, my username is ***** ***** the products I sell, I have had the username for about a year, it was freely available.
I had a email from a person who says he has a online shop and warehouse and has the rights to this username for 5 years and I should change this immediately.
When I started the online shop the username was freely available and I was not aware of his business although I sell similar products which I import on a much smaller scale.
I don't want to change my username as I have built up a reputation, I have spoken at length the well known internet auction company but they are no help.
my online shop name is ***** ***** his company name as I have an underscore in the middle.
Should I just change my username at cost to me or ignore the email and carry on.
Any advise would be greatly appreciated
Hello, my name is***** am a solicitor on this site and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Do you know if his business was around before you started yours? Also does this person sell on the same site?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

hello he says he has run his business since 2010 he does not sell at all on the auction site

There are a couple of possible issues here. The first one is whether he has trademarked the name of the business. If he has then he would own the name and you would not be able to use it without his permission. You can search for trademarks here: If this is not a registered trademark, there is still a potential that you are going to be guilty of ‘passing off’. This is not that easy to determine though and to be successful the person needs to show that there is ‘goodwill’ attached to the name he is trying to protect, in a sense that it must be sufficiently recognisable that any reasonable consumer will associate it with their business. Therefore, if you have a similar name selling similar products, consumer may get confused as to who they are buying from and could wrongly come to you instead, affecting the business which has that goodwill attached to their name. This is where it can get complicated – how unique is their brand, are they well know within the industry for selling those products, is there direct competition between you two, can consumers get confused as to who they are dealing with, etc. It is for the other business to prove that they have goodwill in the name and that you are guilty of passing off. They will have to go to court to do this and they may not go that far as it can be complex and expensive. So you may wish to see how far they are prepared to take this – if they are just threatening and asking you to change the name, it is up to you whether you do so. You can refuse and let them deal with this as they want – they may decide to make a court claim and if they do then you could decide to change it immediately and avoid any further action. I trust this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page). If for any reason you are unhappy with my response or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
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