Trademark Protection.

Trademark Image1My 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:

Until next time, I’m attorney Francine Ward sharing useful legal information. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles.