17 Name Research MythsThat can ruin your name launch
Business owners should be aware of the following 17 Myths when researching their company name. Each of the following is a common mistake business owners make in regard to their business name.
MYTH 1 : I searched my name on Google or Yahoo and no one’s using it so it’s available, right?
Wrong! Searching the internet is barely scratching the surface of business names. Also search engines are designed to spit back the most relevant results meaning that similarities in Sound, Appearance or Meaning are going to be missed.
MYTH 2 : I successfully filed my fictitious name so my business name is available.
Fictitious names are filed on a state by state basis so not only are Federal trademarks missed but 49 other states are missed as well.
MYTH 3 : Okay but I filed my corporation name and that was available.
Corporations just like LLCs, partnerships, etc. are simply forms of organizing a business and have nothing to do with obtaining exclusive rights to a name. Just because a business name was successfully filed does not mean that the name is available Federally or in any other state.
MYTH 4 : My state trademark gives me exclusive rights to my business name.
That is only true if there are no other prior Federally registered trademarks AND no other prior Common-Law rights usage in your state. Doing a search of just one state trademark database is not going to tell you that.
MYTH 5 : I checked the USPTO site and my business name is clear.
While the USPTO is a great preliminary search, it’s by no means comprehensive. The USPTO search engine fails its own test of looking for similarities in Sound, Appearance, Meaning. Also missing are State trademarks & Common-Law databases.
MYTH 6: My domain name is available so I own my business name.
While the name may be available on domain registries, it could easily be owned by another party on the trademark or common-law levels. Owning a domain name does not (1) give you exclusive rights to the name or (2) mean that the name was comprehensively searched.
MYTH 7: The yellow pages search I did shows that my business name is available.
Checking the yellow pages is a paltry preliminary search as it’s missing Federal & State trademark files as well as Common-Law files.
MYTH 8: I filed my business name at the Copyright Office.
Sorry to say but this is the wrong agency; copyrights do not protect names, logos or slogans that are used in connection with products and/or services.
MYTH 9: My business is too small to worry about my company name.
All businesses, no matter how large or small, are to be concerned about the legal availability of their business name. It doesn’t matter if you’re a one-woman operation or have thousands of employees – having your business name comprehensively researched is your responsibility.
MYTH 10: My business name is so unusual – there’s no way someone else has the same name!
Given that there are millions upon millions of business name, this is a risky assumption. Also, similarities in Sound, Appearance or Meaning are going to matter. Names needn’t be exactly alike to be considered an infringement.
MYTH 11: I’ve been using the same name for years so I know it’s mine.
You’ve likely established Common-Law rights to the name but the problem with Common-Law rights is that they are restricted to your trade areas. So if you’re only doing business in a couple of states, that’s not going to stop anyone else from obtaining trademark rights in other areas.
MYTH 12: I combined two different words to make one coined made up word so I know it’s available.
Again, this is a risky assumption to make about your business name. Coined words are stronger than descriptive words for a business name but it doesn’t mean that another company hasn’t created the same or similar name in your industry.
MYTH 13: My business name is spelled differently from another company’s so it’s okay for me to use it.
Most definitely not. If you say your business name out loud and it sounds the same or similar to another company’s name, that’s a problem. Read more about the similarity in Sound factor.
MYTH 14: I flip flopped a letter in my business name so it’s different enough from another company’s usage.
If your business name looks similar to another company’s name, that could easily be infringement. Read more about the similarity in Appearance factor.
MYTH 15: My business name is different enough because I used a synonym instead of the same word.
Marks need not be exact to be considered an infringement, even if it means that the marks have different words. Read more about the similarity in Meaning factor.
MYTH 16: I filed a patent on my name so I know it’s legally available.
Patents are for inventions, not names, logos or slogans. Filing a patent on a name is not only incorrect but provides absolutely no basis for research.
MYTH 17: My logo is unique enough to protect my business name.
Logos do not protect names in any way, shape or form. Also in filing a Federal trademark, the USPTO looks at the name and logo SEPARATELY so if the name is blocked by a similar name OR the logo is blocked by a similar design, the entire application is rejected.
Free intellectual property audit, more the merrier.
Common trademarks include business names, slogans and logo designs. Older and larger companies accumulate valuable Intellectual Property assets without sometimes taking care to properly research, trademark, periodically protect and renew State or USPTO continued use applications. Over years of time some marks may be forgotten, deadlines missed to file incontestability of a given mark, infringer’s may be allowed to eat at your rights – ultimately resulting in Acquiescence, or giving up rights to an infringer, thereby losing your valuable trademark to them. Call us for a detailed, in depth, FREE review of your Intellectual Property – and FREE written report weighted towards your needs, constraints and future plans. We’ll determine a concise plan of action and explain why and when each step should be undertaken to conserve your marks and conserve your cash. The more marks you have, the greater discount you’ll be offered! Call us today!
17 Name Research Myths
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