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Friday, Oct 7, 2022

Name Game

Its competition has been snapping up names that are strikingly similar to the 99 Cents Only brand, but what can be done about it?

In fact, 99 Cents Only has taken what steps it can, but it is limited under U.S. trademark laws.

The company holds several trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, including 99 & #728; Only Stores, Only 99 & #728; Only Stores and 99 & #728; Only.

But a business may only register a trademark if it intends to use it. So unless 99 Cents Only wants to start marketing the 98 Cents Only name, it has to leave that to someone else.

One way to temporarily halt imitators is to file a notice of intent to register a name, but that just buys three years of peace before it must be officially registered.

Because its elements are so common, the 99 Cents Only Stores mark is not very strong. Trademark attorneys suggest registering a unique name, like Xerox, that does not describe what the business does.

When ruling on the strength of a trademark, judges typically consider whether a competitor’s name could confuse consumers.

Amanda Bronstad


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