Paul C. VanSlyke, Senior Counsel at Hoover Slovacek LLP
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Pizza place files trademark infringement for similar name

Texas fans of actress Julia Roberts may remember that she starred in a movie called, "Mystic Pizza" back in 1988. The movie took its name from a real pizza shop on the East Coast. Recently, that establishment filed a trademark infringement claim against another pizzeria whose company and website names are suspiciously similar.

This is not as uncommon as people might think. When choosing a name for a business, companies are supposed to make sure that the chosen name is not too close to that of another one. Like most businesses here in Texas, many only look within their state, but that could end up causing problems since many establishments are now online and can reach audiences across the country and the world.

Mystic Pizza, located in Connecticut, filed its claim against Mystic Pizzeria, located in Pennsylvania. Not only does it accuse the pizzeria of trademark infringement, but also of cybersquatting, which means that one company obtained an internet address substantially similar to another company's site. This could cause traffic looking for Mystic Pizza to inadvertently end up at Mystic Pizzeria's site instead. It is not difficult to understand why Mystic Pizza feels that the other company could be taking customers from it.

Texas companies who discover that another company with a similar name exists in another state should not dismiss it since the other company's website could take customers intended for the other site. The world has gotten smaller due to the internet, and trademark infringement could happen much more easily than in the past. If a company finds itself in this situation, it may want to take steps to rectify the problem as quickly as possible, and that may require litigation.

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