Picking a Clean Business NAME
Choosing a unique name for your business that doesn't have potential legal conflicts can be tough. You're not alone in the struggle and we are here to help. This guide will walk you through some tips and factors you should consider to help you find a unique clean name for your venture.
HOW TO VET YOUR NAME
An efficient way to start vetting a business name is to run a search on google to see if there are any other businesses using a name that is the same or similar. Other businesses can potentially stop you from using a confusingly similar name even if they don't have a registered trademark, so anything that you find on google will be relevant in determining whether there is a potential conflict. When running your search, here is what you should be looking for:
AVOIDING A LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION
You need to ensure the name you choose isn't too confusingly similar to any existing business names within your class of goods and services. The policy behind this rule is to ensure the consuming public won't mistakenly confuse two businesses, which could dilute or harm business reputations. The consequences for infringing on another business name could include having to re-brand, lawsuits, and liability for damages.
Here is how to avoid a likelihood of confusion:
Similarity - Even if two names aren't identical, they may still be too confusingly similar if they share substantial similarities. Here are some examples of names that would likely conflict with one another:
- "Voo-Doo Productions" and "Voo-Doo Entertainment", because the core portion of the mark is Voo-Doo, and the descriptive terms "Production" and "Entertainment" do not cure the confusing similarity.
- "Voo-Doo Productions" and "Vu-Du Entertainment", because "Voo-Doo" and "Vu-Du" sound the same phonetically.
Goods and Services - Two businesses can have the same or similar names if they are in sufficiently distinct classes of goods and services. For example:
"Voo-Doo Productions" and "Voo-Doo Apparel" would not necessarily conflict with one another, because one business provides media services and the other sells clothing goods, so there is less of a likelihood of confusion.
Geographic Region - Two businesses can have the same or similar names in the same class of goods and services if they do not operate (or otherwise have trademark rights) in the same country. For example, if you find a business that would otherwise conflict with your business name, but they are only conducting business in Europe and don't have a registered trademark in the U.S., you may be able to use the name in the U.S. without legal conflict. However, this can limit your ability to expand your business and conflicts could arise if it turns out the overseas business actually was conducting business in the U.S. Further, your customer base may still confuse your company with the other business when searching for you online.
AVOIDING A GENERIC OR DESCRIPTIVE NAME
Generic or descriptive business names that merely describe your goods or services are less likely to be protectable under trademark law. This means that while you may be able to use the name for your business if it's otherwise "clean", you will not be able to register a trademark for the name or stop other businesses from using your name. Here are some examples of descriptive or generic names:
- Generic Name - "The Creative Co." to provide creative services would likely be deemed generic and un-protectable.
- Descriptive Name - "Creative Visions" to provide creative services may be deemed descriptive, and only registrable on the supplemental registry.
Descriptive names can be registered on the supplemental registry and may eventually become protectable trademarks once the name becomes recognizable enough to the general public in association with your goods or services.
If you're like many, it may seem impossible to find a "clean" name. Here are some tips:
- Make up a word - Get creative with the alphabet. Invent a cool word that vibes with your business that no one else has used. These names make for the strongest trademarks.
- Use a few words - Instead of using one unique word in your name (i.e. "Violet Agency") try combining a few unique words together (i.e. "Violet Scope Agency"). You will have a better shot of finding a clean name when you get creative with word combinations.
- Keep at it - Be patient. Make long lists of names. Work with your branding and marketing team. Run lots of searches. It may take some time, but you will find something.
- Run it by legal - Once you have a few potential names, run them by your legal team to see what is viable to move forward with.
RUN IT BY LEGAL
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This guide is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.
Please contact us for professional assistance.