The Love Affair with Names

Let’s say you are starting a new business, or are launching a new brand for your existing business. You have thought of a name, done a Google search and no one else seems to be using it, and the domain name is available. You grab that domain name and think you’ve conquered the world. Not quite! I bet you haven’t even considered doing a trademark search.

I have seen many business owners get emotionally attached to the first name they came up with and purchased the domain name. More often than not (and to their surprise), that name is not available because someone else has either registered it as a trademark or has a pending trademark application. I always have to break the news to them and then watch them go through an emotional breakup with the said name. It’s like watching a guy go through rejection from a girl he proposed after probably dating her for a month. Clearly, the guy did not even bother to find out whether the girl was on the same page as him before he popped the question!

As a business owner, you have tools at your disposal to do your research before getting emotionally invested in a name. If you have not given thorough consideration to the trademark issues concerning the name you plan to use, you may be setting yourself up for some legal trouble.

I recently read a blog in which business owners were discussing different issues that they face in their business. One business owner, let’s call her Maria, had written about a new skincare business that she was developing and she had decided to call her brand “Oceanic Organics”. Maria felt passionate about the name and she had already purchased the domain name. She applied for a trademark registration and within a few months received a rejection from the trademark office because “Oceanic Organics” conflicted with prior trademark registration for “Oceanik” for skin care related goods.    

Even though the spellings were different, and Maria’s mark had the additional word “Organics”, it was not distinguishable enough from “Oceanik”. Maria not only faced rejection from the trademark office, but also faced a potential infringement threat from the company owning the “Oceanik” trademark.

A good strategy to prevent such a situation is to run a comprehensive trademark search. A search conducted and analyzed by an attorney specializing in trademark law can help determine the challenges that a business may face in adopting and using a desired mark. This can definitely avoid unnecessary risk and also save you thousands of dollars in litigation costs in the future.

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