The Smart Way to Name Your Company
What's in a name?
When you're starting a new company or rebranding an existing one, you're probably creating your new name from a marketing perspective. Like, how you can convey your brand ideals to your customers.
You also need to look at it from a legal perspective. Trademarks regulate what names, logos, tag lines, and colors your company can use.
1. Pick a name that can be trademarked
A lot of words can't be protected with trademarks. Without a trademark, there's no way to stop copycats from ripping off your brand name and aesthetic. You're investing time and money into a brand that any other company can use to profit. For that reason, I don't recommend going forward with a name that can't be protected. Here are the words to avoid:
You cannot protect words that literally describe what you do or products you sell. For example, you can't trademark hotels.com or the term "high heels."
You can't protect words that describe the ingredients, quality, use, or location of product. For example, Peach Body Scrub or California Candles.
You cannot protect company names that only consist of a last name.
You cannot protect the location where you produce the products or services, especially if it's a noteworthy location that is known for those products or services. For example, you couldn't protect Los Angeles Apparel because Los Angeles is known for producing apparel.
You can't protect words that may deceive customers about the products or services. For example, the words gold, silk, vegan, or kosher would be deceptive if the products were not actually made of gold, silk, vegan, or kosher materials.
You cannot get around another company's trademark by misspelling the word. For example, Starbuxx or Luluu Lemmon.
You can't protect the name of a single edition of work. That means you cannot trademark the title of a book, song, or movie. However, you can trademark the title of a series, like multiple volumes, new editions, magazines, newsletters, coloring books, computer games, or albums.
You can't protect a word if you're using it on an ornamental part of the product. That means words across the front of a t-shirt cannot be protected. However, words on the tags or logos on the front pocket of shirts can be protected.
2. Pick a name that is available
If a brand is already trademarked, then you can't use it.
The problem? There are millions of trademarks already. The number of trademark applications is skyrocketing in recent years, especially in popular areas like apothecary or apparel products. It's especially difficult to trademark a one word company name, unless it's very unique, because of how many trademarks already exist.
A trademark search allows you to see if your company name is too similar to an existing company. It's not as simple as inputting your exact company name and hitting search. You'll need to search for similar sounding words, similar spelled words, alternate pronunciation of words, complex words, foreign translations, and words found in other trademark registers. Once you get all the necessary search results, you'll need to analyze trademark law and policies to determine if any conflicting results will hold up your application.
It's best to call in an expert to run your trademark search. It needs to be done correctly to make sure that your brand is available before you begin a trademark application.