Saturday, June 24, 2017

Don’t Name Your Business, Brand It!

January 24, 2009 by  
Filed under Trademark Law


One of the biggest mistakes that a new business can make is choosing a name that sounds exactly like every other company out there. For example, if the business is a nail salon, names like “EZ Nails” or “Glamour Nails” is a quick solution that gets straight to the point. Sure, the name is easy to recognize, and it  is obvious what the nature of the business is from the name. But it is unmemorable and probably not able to be trademarked.

 When you think about the empires of Nike or Apple, you instinctively know that Nike sells athlethic shoes and apparel and Apple had its roots in computers.  Both of these companies created meaning in their names, an association with a good that is entirely unrelated to the literal meaning of the name of the  company. Nike and Apple built valuable trademarks and lasting brand recognition. If you put some thought into the name of your company or product, you can too.

Here are some tips for creating a trademark:

1. Stay away from generic or descriptive terms that are used by others in your industry. The US Patent and Trademark Office will not allow you to trademark these terms because everyone has a right to use them. For example, if you sell cars or computers, you cannot trademark those terms because it would prevent others from using them. Also, descriptive terms such as “quick”, “best”, “superior”, cannot be trademarked for the same policy reasons.

2. Suggestive terms are easier to trademark because they require thought in the consumer in order to discern what the product or service is. Suggestive terms include, “glide” for dental floss, and “beautyrest” for mattresses. Both of these terms give a general visual about the product’s qualities without having a preestablished meaning for it.

3. An arbitrary term is also an excellent choice for a trademark. An example of an arbitrary term is APPLE. Everyone knows an apple is a fruit, but the company built a reputation for computers and software around the name. Now it is a well known brand that bears know relationship with the actual meaning of the word. Arbitrary terms make very strong trademarks because you have to build your own recognition, and that is what is protected by filing for trademark rights.

4. Fanciful or Coined terms are made-up words that don’t have any meaning. Most pharmaceutical drugs are coined terms. Perhaps Kodak and Xerox are the most famous examples of coined terms. Since these words do not have any meaning associated with them, any meaning and brand association that a company can establish makes the term easy to trademark.
Avoid geographical names or surnames and numbers or letters. Also avoid words that look like or sound like another major brand with similar products. For example, “Niller Light” for a new beer brew.

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