Can Someone Use Your Business Name

(WSVN) - If you start a business, you don’t want someone else to open the same kind of business and use your name, but that’s what one South Floridian says happened to him after he had even trademarked his name. Can they get away with using his name? It’s why he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Some people take a lifetime to find a career they love.

As a kid, Ivan Meza trimmed a few years off that.

Ivan Meza, trademarked his name: “I was about 13, 14, cutting my friends, and then at 18, 19, I got my first job at a barber shop.”

But Ivan’s career plan didn’t call for just being a barber.

Ivan Meza: “I decided to do my own, and that’s when this one came about.”

This is Fade’m Up Barber Shop — or FUBS for short — in Pembroke Pines.

Ivan Meza: “I wanted to have a place where guys could come and look like a bar, a sports bar. We’re watching the news or sports and movies.”

By the way, if you wonder where the name Fade’m Up came from, it’s a style of haircut.

Ivan Meza: “Lower on the sides and higher on the top, and you connect it. It fades into the top, so that’s what a fade is.”

Ivan’s ideas, including electronic games for kids while their fathers get haircuts, has made Fade’m Up very popular, and that brings up the next part of Ivan’s career plan.

Ivan Meza: “Grow this business to what I always wanted it to be and maybe franchising one day and everything.”

To make sure no one used his shop’s name, in 2013, Ivan hired an attorney to federally trademark the name Fade’m Up Barber Shop — or FUBS for short.

Then this year, when he decided to expand into Central Florida, he got a surprise.

Ivan Meza: “There was a place in Winter Haven using Fade’m Up and everything.”

It might be a coincidence, but Ivan says the Winter Haven shop is run by a fellow who used to be a barber in Miami.

Ivan Meza: “To my knowledge, it was supposed to be protected in state and federal levels.”

Ivan expected hurdles in his career, but he didn’t expect to see his shop’s name used by other barber shops.

Ivan Meza: “I spent a lot of money trademarking that name, and it’s my pride. My pride and joy. I was angry.”

Well Howard, does Ivan have a federal case to stop people from using his trademarked name?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News Legal Expert: “Legally, trademark infringement is very complicated, but after talking to experts, we think Ivan has a better than 50/50 chance of making the shop stop using his name, of course because they copied Ivan’s name. But another factor? The shop is using same logo as a barber shop in Australia. I believe, legally, this shows a pattern of bad faith.”

I contacted the owner of the Winter Haven shop.

He told me his his sister-in-law designed the logo and did not copy the business in Australia.

As for the name Fade’m Up, he said it’s different from Ivan’s cause Ivan has an apostrophe between the e and m, and his shop does not. He also claims the state’s division of corporations told him he did not have to change the name of his barber shop.

Howard Finkelstein: “He misunderstood the state official. Ivan should send a cease and desist letter asking them to stop using his trademarked name. He can do it himself or hire an attorney. If that doesn’t work, he can sue in federal court, and if he wins, he can gets his attorney’s fees paid, and Ivan needs to do this to stop other businesses from using his name and possibly ruining his reputation.”

We also found another barber shop in southwest Florida that using Ivan’s trademarked name. They will also be getting a letter demanding they change their name as Ivan gets ready to grow his business.

Ivan Meza: “I am very happy, man. I am very happy. Everybody knows that they can’t use the name no more. I can move on freely and expand to other places.”

Now, the owner of the shop in Winter Haven told me if he has to change the name of his shop, he will.

And by the way, Howard knows the law, but he doesn’t know much about haircuts. He has had a pony tail since he was a teenager. He hasn’t been in a barber shop since 1968, and he said that haircut cost $0.50.

Prices have changed, huh?

Got a hairy situation growing on you? Feel it’s time to trim things into shape? We are razor sharp and hopefully can groom you to a clean-cut solution.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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