My greatest challenge when it comes to trademarks is the marketing department. In most cases, marketers tell their clients, when choosing a trademark, to select a mark that “describes” what they do. Trademark lawyers tell clients, do NOT choose a mark that describes what you do. Instead, select a mark that is unique and distinctive, not descriptive.
A trademark that is descriptive is considered weak, even if you get it registered. Also, why would you want a mark that everyone uses in casual conversation, e.g., the House Boat for house boats, or the Copy Center for a copy center. Even if it was registered, you’d be constantly fighting to protect what few rights you have. The best way is to make one up – be original and creative!
When counseling my clients, the best way for them to accomplish securing a strong mark is to make up a word and then market it to the hilt. The key is to secure a trademark that is uniquely yours. Examples of strong trademarks: Apple for computer and tech products, Google for search engines, Nike for athletic products, Microsoft for computer products, etc.
Consider those same rules when choosing a business name. The Small Business Administration provides some additional points to consider when choosing your entity name.
- How will your trademark look? – On the web, as part of a logo, on social media.
- What connotations does it evoke? – Is your name too corporate or not corporate enough? Does it reflect your business philosophy and culture? Does it appeal to your market?
- Is it unique? – Pick a name that hasn’t been claimed by others, online or offline. A quick web search and domain name search will alert you to any existing use.
- If you intend to incorporate your business, you’ll need to contact your state filing office to check whether your intended business name has already been claimed and is in use.
- It is web-ready? – In order to claim a website address or URL, your business name needs to be unique and available. Next, check whether a domain name (or web address) is available.
You can read more tips on the SBA website here: https://www.sba.gov/content/how-name-business