October 1017. Former TV presenter Sylvana Simons has been lambasted online for calling her political party by a name that already exists. Justifiable criticism? Certainly not.
A certain man called Jaap posted the following on the website De Orkaan: ‘If she’d done a word search in Google for BIJ1 she’d have seen ‘BIJ1 Psychotherapy Centre’ at the top of the search results. What an idiot.’
No risk of confusion
The only idiot here of course is Jaap himself. That’s because there’s nothing wrong in principle with two organisations using the same name, provided there is no risk of confusion. As long as each organisation operates in different spheres of activity, there’s no problem. Nobody, for example, thinks the Ajax cleaning agent is in any way linked to the soccer club of the same name. Nor will anyone think the psychotherapy practice located in Koog aan de Zaan bears any relation to Sylvana’s political movement.
The name Bij1 has been used to denote other things and clearly hasn’t caused confusion
The only time you need to be careful is if you’re planning to use a name that’s shared with a well-known brand. If Sylvana had named her party ‘Adidas’, for example, she wouldn’t have stood a chance against the global sportswear manufacturer. Not because Adidas is also engaged in politics, but because the protection that’s given to a brand with a reputation extends far beyond the category in which it operates.
We can certainly sympathise with the therapists in the Zaanstreek not being delighted at sharing their name with a political party, but there’s no question of a trademark or trade name infringement.