While a trademark gives some exclusive rights to a name (or logo) for use with a product or service, this does not mean that trademarks cannot overlap or that companies can never use the same name. Example: DELTA airlines and DELTA faucets (see also earlier post regarding PHILLIES baseball and cigars).
I did a quick search for brand names using “Pelton” (admittedly, trademarks containing a surname are not as strong as a coined or arbitrary name and are treated differently under the law), and found quite a few!
- Pelton & Crane – dental lights – http://www.pelton.net/lights.html
- Stephen Pelton Dance – http://stephenpeltondance.org/
- The Pelton Vanners – gypsy horses – http://www.gypsyvanner.net/
- Pelton House Bed & Breakfast – http://www.peltonhouse.com/
- Pelton Shepherd Industries – ice business – http://www.peltonshepherd.com/
- Pelton Environmental Products, Inc. – http://www.peltonenv.com/
- Pelton Crossing – housing development – http://www.peltoncrossing.com/news.html
- Pelton’s Party Rental & Sales – http://www.peltonsparty.com/
- Erik M. Pelton & Associates, PLLC – legal services – http://www.erikpelton.com
- iPelton – this blog – http://ipelton.wordpress.com
Notice that each of these in the list has additional wording to help distinguish them or help describe the product/services offered. And each of the services provided is quite different from the others. If one was a bed & breakfast and another was a hotel, or one was for toy product and one was for a toy store, they might be more likely to be confused.
It is possible for trademark words to co-exist or overlap, particularly when the name is “crowded” (used by several others) or the term is combined with other wording. Of course, every situation is unique and if you have a question about using or protecting a particular brand name you should consult an attorney.