Someone else is using my stage-name! What should I do?
If you are a performer and you find that someone has begun using a name which is the same or very similar to yours, the best thing to do is get a second opinion on the matter. Don’t wade in to unknown waters – don’t ride in on a high horse shouting about copyright, theft and the like it’s a theatrical business but no-one likes a drama queen ;p What may sound similar in one mind, might not match in an others. Many performers have needlessly opened up arguments over rhyming couplets or semantic puns and looked foolish in the process. Few performers are in a position where their stage name is recognisable as trademark to the degree that it would stand up under legal scrutiny.
However, having said all that, protecting your identity is important and if need be you should take polite action to resolve the matter. Contacting your name-sake to explain the predicament rather than complaining about it publicly on Facebook etc, is the first step toward a peaceful and dignified resolution. They may be unaware of the problem. They may have been using it longer than you realise. Secondly you can ask if there is another option to consider. It is in everyone’s interest to get along and have unique identities so be prepared to consider some change on your part too. Common sense and an ability to deal in fairness will be required.
Certain names will naturally sound alike and no one can lay claims to ownership of sounds or double-meanings but it is considered poor etiquette in the least, to ignore the effects of stepping on another’s toes. Aping an identity can be construed as ‘passing off’ which takes a person in to the legal mine fields of trademark infringement. Typically, registered trademarks have weight in these instances whereas unregistered marks often don’t. See the Intellectual Property Office for official guidelines and help on this matter. Also, if your stage name and persona are not already well known it will be difficult to justify your sole use of the particular name. Rarely will a performer be so established as to warrant legal proceedings over branding issues.