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Illinois judge orders auto shop owner to change its name

What’s in a name? When you or your family is well-known in business circles, putting your name on the front door of your business can mean quite a bit. The public’s recognition and positive association of your name could mean a significant boost in business, compared with a less personal company name.

But that name could also be valuable to a competing company. If that business claims to have claim on a particular business name first, the matter may have to go to court.

In an example from Illinois, a Champaign County Circuit judge has ruled that a man who hoped to name his auto repair shop after himself will have to remove his name from the business, or otherwise alter the wording. This ruling goes in favor of a competing garage called Car Care Collision Centers, which purchased repair shops belonging to the other party’s father nine years ago.

Car Care kept the family name, Tatman, on its signs until last summer. The other party, Tim Tatman, planned to call his new shop Tim Tatman’s Collision Repair. However, Car Care said it still uses the Tatman name on its uniforms, invoices, vehicles and so on, which it felt meant the public still associated the name Tatman with its shops.

Car Care petitioned the court for an injunction preventing Tim Tatman from using the name “Tim Tatman’s Collision Repair” for his new business. On March 17, the judge announced he would grant that injunction. He said that Tatman could use his name, but not in combination with the words “Collision Repair.”

Selecting your business’ name can take a great deal of thought, because it is a way you introduce yourself to your customers.

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