Business Names and Trademark Infringement

You're both going to be hearing from Woody Harrelson... December 26, 2006

I just opened a cabinet shop in Wyoming and named it "Valley Woodworks." It did not take too long for the local competitor to call me up to change the name of my business. His business name is "Woodworks Unlimited." He mentioned he owned the name "Woodworks" and that people would be confused over the two names. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor M:
He owns the name "Woodworks Unlimited, Inc." He doesn't own "Valley Woodworks." and neither do you, if you haven't registered it.

From contributor J:
Sounds like he's spent too much time in his spray booth without a respirator.

From contributor H:
Your competitor feels threatened. It's his problem. It's also good for you. Forgetaboutit! No one owns the word "woodworks".

From contributor K:
I agree with the others... He's either misinformed about the law or just feels threatened. On a personal note, I don't know how you could mix the two up. One leads with the word "Woodworks" and the other leads with "Valley". That's like saying "Burger King" could be confused with "Valley Burger". In addition, Valley Woodworks sounds regional, and Woodworks Unlimited sounds like it could be anywhere. Besides, if he owns the word "woodworks", he better check with the following companies in Wyoming with the word "woodworks" in their name...

Wyoming Woodworks
Stoney Creek Woodworks
Spirit Woodworks
Anderson Woodworks
Estes Woodworks
Heriloom Woodworks
Native Woodworks
Rick's Woodworks
W.W. Woodworks
Wheatland Woodworks

I can almost guarantee you that none of them, like you, pay any royalties for use of the name. If your name were Unlimited Woodworks, I could maybe understand the possibility of a mix-up, and consider changing the name for your benefit, so you wouldn't get confused with him. Otherwise, it's just smoke... Tell him if he's that concerned, he could always change his name.

P.S. Now stop worrying about it and go make some money!

From contributor F:
Contributor K's correct about moving on, but you might think about a more individual approach like Valley Woodworx, and get it registered to protect yourself in view of the popularity of "woodworks".

From contributor O:
I ended my business name with "Woodworks" because that is what I offer - woodworking. If you only build cabinets and had "Woodworks" at the end, and he really did do all types of woodworking, then I can see a little bit of a problem. You would generate leads that you would reject or refer elsewhere, taking work away from him. However, if you build more than cabinetry, than you are in fact a woodworker, thus giving you the right to use the ending "Woodworks."

Personally, either way, you have the right to your business name, and he can stick his head in the sand. On another note, should you befriend said woodworker, you could get sub work or referrals from him when he is too busy or needs help. Being enemies right off is probably not a good situation.

"Reese Woodworking" or "Reese's Custom Woodshop" could be good alternatives. Throwing in the Custom part may get you more leads, too.

From contributor K:
I have to disagree... I think you are looking at the term "woodworks" differently than an average consumer. A consumer would assume if you work with wood, that's woodworks - it's generic to them.

From contributor D:
Custom? My name is Doebler Custom Woodworks. I thought I owned that one. Guess not. And now with "Woodworks" off the market, I guess I'm just stuck with "Doebler"... Oy.

From contributor O:
I agree, contributor K, that that's what the consumer's views are. But since I offer several types of woodwork, it just fits. I typically have to explain to everyone what I offer. I like the ones that say "do you do granite too?" I'm working on getting my general's license so I can change my answer from "is granite wood?" to "yep, if that's what I need to offer to get your business."

Your business name is the most important part of your business. Without it, who would you be? Nobody says that they are going to have "the cabinet shop on 32nd street - you know, the one where they have the really nice dog," build their cabinets.

From contributor T:

I like Valley Woodwork better. Has a broader tone to it. Drop the "s", but not for your competitor. Let him think whatever he wants.

From contributor E:
If you incorporate or become an LLC using your own name, and then DBA (Doing business as) or TA (Trading as) Valley Woodwork(s), you will be able to legitimately ask customers to make the check out to your name. This can have significant advantages.

From contributor A:
I don't think it's a major issue. Plenty of shops in the area including myself use the word "woodworks" in our business name. The word "woodworks" explains what we do. If he complains again, contact an attorney.

From contributor I:
That is just ridiculous. He doesn't own anything. Actually, in Michigan, as long as you are not in the same county, you could be dba Woodworks Unlimited. I have a couple of suppliers that have customers with the same company name as mine in the same state. Tell that guy to consider himself lucky you didn't take the exact same name and just spell it differently.