Can a DJ and school bag provider use the same name?

July 3, 2012

Dear Music Lawyer,

I am a DJ using the name "Charmza the DJ." There is a company that produces school bags called Charmza. Can I still use my name?


Dear Charmza,

From a trademark law perspective, you're probably fine using Charmza for your DJ services even if you started using the name after the school bag producer because consumers are unlikely to be confused that a school bag producer is related to your DJ business. However, if you wanted to start creating DJ "merch" in the form of school bags (or just bags in general) you might run into problems with Charmza the school bag producer.

The reason is that U.S. trademark law protects against the use of the same or confusingly similar names in the same (or similar) types of goods and services. Specifically, trademark protection is based on an international classification system for goods and services. Generally, you cannot register the same or confusingly similar trademarks in the same class of goods/services.

There are currently 45 different international classes such as a class for "clothing, footwear, and headgear" (Class 25) and a class for "musical instruments" (Class 15). For a full list, you can click here.

The trademark class that includes DJ services (Class 41) does not include bags (or anything remotely like bags because it's actually a class for service marks rather than trademarks used on goods) so there's unlikely to be a problem with you obtaining trademark protection for the name "Charmza" as applied to DJ services solely because there is a "Charmza" school bag producer. Bear in mind that if you were to manufacture and distribute bags with the name "Charmza" on them, then it's possible that consumers would be confused that those bags were produced by the Charmza bag supplier, especially if you don't stylize the way that you write your DJ name.

—Amy E. Mitchell is maintained by experienced Austin music lawyer Amy E. Mitchell. Please feel free to ask any music law related questions. You will be notified by email when your question has been selected for response, and the response will be posted on this site.

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